Let the Caregiver Movement Begin with the Caregiver Bill of Rights

As we celebrate American Independence Day, it brings to mind how dependent we are on our nation’s 65 million caregivers.  Over the next 20+ years, the next civil rights issue we will face is a growing older population with more seniors needing care – whether diagnosed with a disease, disorder or living with a disability – and the need to recognize and support their family caregivers.  Particularly during July’s National Sandwich Generation Month, we celebrate those who are juggling children, career and caregiving.

Which is why we need a Caregiving Movement similar to other movements and milestones in the last century:

 

 

The Women’s Movement: Women won the vote in 1920 and 50 years later entered the workforce in droves creating an evolution in work and family life. Today, women comprise 47 percentof the entire U.S. workforce.

 

 

 

Civil Rights Movement: Despite becoming emancipated by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, African Americans took to the streets and the mall in the nation’s capital 100 years later in 1963 to declare their equality led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, we have had our first African American President and more than 40 Congress men and women of African American descent.

 

Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement: In the 1980s there was a cultural shift in the LGBTQ community and Gay Pride parades became more celebratory than radical events. In June 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a California law barring same-sex couples from marrying and receiving federal benefits as part of their union.

Pew Research poll shows 45 percent of Americans approve of the Supreme Court’s decision – up more than half from Gallup polls on the topic 20 years ago.

The Caregiving Movement

What’s next?  Family caregivers comprise the largest volunteer health care workforce in our country – 65 million strong. Caregiving also crosses all socio-economic boundaries – it is blind to race, religion, age, geographic location, sexual orientation and income bracket. According to AARP, the annual societal value for the unpaid hours of care provided is more than $450 billion – $42 billion more than the sales of Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer.

More than 240 years ago, our forefathers set in motion the greatest human experiment in civil liberty the world has ever known. Every July 4th we celebrate their courage, their vision, their dreams for a future where all can live in freedom.

In the late 1700s, the average lifespan was only age 40 (although if you reached age 50 you could expect to live another 20 years). I doubt any of the Founding Fathers expected the longevity we experience today where 20 percent of those age 65 will live to 90 and 1 in every 50 boomer women will reach age 100.

However, of the seven most well-known Founding Fathers, only two did not reach their 80s (George Washington died of illness at 67 and Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel at age 49).  The remaining five lived to be octogenarians: John Jay (83), Benjamin Franklin (84) and James Madison (85), and even more coincidentally, both Thomas Jefferson (83) and John Adams (90) died not only at unexpectedly old ages but also on the same iconic day – July 4, 1826.

Kicking Off the Caregiving Movement with the Caregiver Bill of Rights

While our forefathers may have been as unprepared for the aging of America as we are today, they gave us the guidelines to create a Caregiving Movement. With that premise in mind, I present to you my version of the Caregiver Bill of Rights.

  1. The right to have balance between caring for my loved one and caring for myself. 

    This includes my desire to avoid the “Caregiver Achilles Heel” – reluctance to ask for and accept help. I will maintain routines and plans as best I can and seek help so as to not losemyself while on this caregiving journey.  I will accept help provided to me by family and friends so I do not feel I am all alone.

  2. The right to receive a financial break or tax credit for caring full-time for my loved one.

    In the same way Americans are granted tax credits for dependent children, I should be granted tax credits for caring for parents who are dependent on me for their constant care.

  3. The right to work for an employer that understands and supports caregivers.

    As part an aging workforce, more and more of us will face the life event of caregiving while on the job. Today, 7 out of 10 caregivers are juggling work and caregiving and represent 15 percent of the U.S. labor force. I have the right to work for an employer that will provide me with the employee assistance to maintain my work performance and productivity, my own health and wellness, and support for my loved one without fear of reprisal or dismissal.

  4. The right to expect the nation’s legislators to acknowledge the valuable service I perform and to enact policies that not only support those with the illness or disability but support their family caregivers as well.

    This includes acknowledging my role as a first responder in the long-term-care crisis in this country. I should expect our legislators to ease the burden of caregiving, especially financially, so I can continue to perform as part of the largest volunteer health care workforce in the country.

  5. The right to expect my loved one’s medical advisors and health care professionals to recognize my critical role as part of the primary and long-term care team.

    I should expect health care professionals to communicate with me without violating my loved one’s privacy rights so I can best care for my loved one.  Especially when it comes to transitions of care, I become a critical player in helping my loved one – the patient – transition from hospital to home or other facility and to maintain their health, medication compliance and other aspects of care that will decrease hospital readmissions. According to AARP, as of today 29 states have passed into law the CARE Act which requires health care providers to include the family caregiver information in a patient’s clinical chart, provide timely notification on discharge and help with family caregiver training needs to ensure quality of care for older patients at home.

  6. The right to easily find resources that will help me in my caregiving journey.

    Whether these services are provided by public or private organizations, every caregiver should know where to turn to get the help and education they need at whatever stage of caregiving they are encountering.

  7. The right to not take on the financial burden of caregiving all by myself.

    I should not have to put my financial future at risk to care for my loved one today. It should be the obligation of elected officials and the health care system to ensure costs of care should not bankrupt our citizens and our country.

  8. The right to make choices that will help me manage my stress without feeling guilt or depression that I am focusing on myself at times rather than solely on my loved one.

    This includes the right to take a break – for a few minutes or a few days – and to avoid feeling guilty to care myself as well as my loved one. The need to seek respite in my caregiving duties is essential to my ability to continue caring for my loved one long-term.

  9. The right to speak up and expect my close circle of friends and family to understand my caregiving role and to support me in any way they can.

    This includes the right to expect I can reach out to them so I do not feel alone.  Also that my spouse, my adult children, my siblings, my co-workers and my close friends will lift me up when I am down and help me keep going on this caregiving journey.

  10. The right to expect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” even while so much of my time, energy and attention is going to care for my loved one.

 

©2017 Sherri Snelling

 

Push Reset on Resolutions – Use Me Time Monday for Caregiver Wellness

New Years Scrabble SMALL dreamstime_m_12065390 (2)The start of a New Year is the time we reflect on all the things we wanted to do or should have done yet didn’t get accomplished in the past year.  Thus, we resolve to address these self-makeover wishes in the coming 12 months. “Coulda, shoulda, woulda” is the statement we erase from our vocabulary in January as we hit reset on our bold, ambitious plans. Yet according to the University of Scranton researcher John Norcross and author of Changing for Good, one in four of us make a resolution for the New Year but after six months only 46 percent are still sticking with it.

With the hectic pace of the holidays over, the frenzy over buying gifts and seeing friends and family is done (at least for another 12 months).  You can finally breathe.  That is, unless you are one of the 65 million Americans who are caring for a loved one – the moment to put the world on pause and get a break never seems to happen.

Which is why I feel caregivers should exempt themselves from resolutions all together.  The very nature of resolutions is a reminder of how we failed. This is why I hate them.  I hate being reminded that I have somehow failed in an attempt to accomplish a goal.  Instead of focusing on the negative I try to remind myself failure can be a teacher.  Tragi-comic author, playwright and poet Samuel Becket famously said, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Fail Again. Fail Better.”  I couldn’t say it better.

Now, if you are a caregiver – you are NOT failing – you are accomplishing one of life’s precious goals – caring for another. You may not have enough time for yourself in your caregiving state is why my message to all caregivers is to banish the New Year’s Resolutions (NYRs) and adopt my Me Time Monday (MTM) plan.

Making It Work

Monkey Teeth dreamstime_m_7590920 (2)1. Banish negativity

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in England, author of :59 Seconds and creative consultant to the TV show The Mentalist, says those who fail to keep their resolution have one common pitfall which is focusing on the downside of the goal. You suppress your cravings, fantasize about being successful, adopt a role model or rely on willpower alone. But these aren’t pleasurable experiences, they are torture and you will soon abandon them. He stated in an interview with The Guardian, “Failing to achieve your ambitions is often psychologically harmful because it can rob people of a sense of self control.”

For caregivers, resolutions are even harder especially since you are typically juggling many of life’s balls – children, career and caregiving – and the ball getting dropped is the one that says “self-care.” Adding one more thing to your To Do List in 2014 is enough to make you cry (or scream, or throw something or grab that pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream that makes you feel better, until you step on the scale).  However, there is hope.

 

Jump for Joy dreamstime_m_5332888 (2)2.      Make a Plan Focused on Personal Joy

My solution for caregivers is to re-wire our brains to think “what am I giving myself” instead of “what am I not going to give myself.”  This year, you are going to give yourself a gift – that’s right – no cutting back, no cutting out and no cutting corners. If you follow these steps, you will not only improve your physical health but your mental health and that is a resolution worth celebrating.  You are going to take the remote control of your life back.

 

 

 

 

Monday calendar dreamstime_14224102 (2)3.      Use My Me Time Monday℠ Method

When you become a caregiver, you often feel like you entered one of today’s popular reality TV programs – it is like Survivor and The Amazing Race all at once. Instead of frantically looking for clues, or worrying about what the tribe will say  let’s call your 2014 reality show Me Time Monday and there are 52 episodes (one each Monday).

 

 

What is Me Time?

If you are asking, “What is Me Time?” then we really have to do an extreme makeover on you. Me Time is a concept that has been written about by CNN, Forbes, WebMD and advocated by many of the self-help gurus and health professionals I admire such as Dr. Oz, Louise Hay, Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Alice Domar. It is the essence of self-care which is the balance you need when you are caregiving.

Me Time is how you define it. First of all, you need to make a list of all the things you love to do that are just for you. These are probably things you have abandoned or at least don’t get to as frequently if you are caregiving.

It helps to think about things you loved to do as a kid (bike riding, hopscotch), or activities you enjoyed when you had no pressing responsibilities (such as kids, a job, a husband or a loved one to care for).  Your Me Time may be gardening, reading a good book or magazine, painting or sculpting, getting a mani/pedi, going for a scenic drive or perhaps it is even more youth-oriented such as diving into a new pile of snow or ice skating or walking along the beach collecting seashells (my favorite). Make sure you only list things you love that are just for you – if you wrote down exercise but it’s something you feel you have to do rather than love to do, it’s NOT Me Time.

Why Monday?

Monday is part of our cultural DNA – for most of us, it is the start of the work week, the school week and we feel renewed energy to start something after a nice weekend break. The nonprofit Monday Campaigns was founded in 2005 in association with Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University and Syracuse University in order to apply marketing best practices to public health challenges. According to the research, the Monday Campaigns show a projected 74 percent of American adults over age 25 believe giving healthy intentions a Monday start will make them more lasting throughout the week. Part of The Monday Campaigns is Caregiver Monday, a specific campaign targeted to helping the nation’s caregivers take care of themselves.

“Day in and day out, millions of caregivers give so much of themselves caring for their loved ones that they often neglect their own health and well-being,” says Sid Lerner, founder and chairman, The Monday Campaigns. “Caregiver Monday encourages them to use that first day of each hectic week as their recharge day, to refocus on their own condition to better serve their dependent parent, child or spouse.”

Your Me Time Monday Checklist

Plan B dreamstime_m_21540655 (2)1. Write it down.  Put your Me Time Monday activity on sticky notes. Post these notes on your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, in your wallet, on your smartphone, on your car dashboard – anywhere you will see the words every day.  These are love notes to yourself.

 

 

 

ca. 2003 --- Baby Steps --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis2. Take baby steps. If your Me Time is taking a 30-minute walk to enjoy nature and outdoors (a great stress reliever), start with buying new walking shoes on your first Monday (it’s all about the shopping for me).

The following week it may be getting just a few minutes to walk around the block – you don’t have to achieve 30 minutes on Week 1 – just get started.  Once you get in the groove you will find you plan your Me Time because of the comfort it brings you.

If you miss a week – don’t beat yourself up.  Evaluate what derailed you and see if you can eliminate the obstacle the next week.  What’s great about Me Time Monday – you have 52 chances to stay on track! And you don’t have to do your activity on Monday – just use Monday as your “check in” point for the week – do you know what you are going to do and how to find that time?

 

Train tracks dreamstime_m_10769462 (2)3. Track your progress. Put a little heart on your weekly calendar when you do your Me Time or tell a friend who can be your cheerleader about your plan and let them applaud your weekly progress (and help give you a caregiving break so you can get your Me Time – see Lotsa Helping Hands as a great way caregivers can get help to get a break).  Getting reinforcement – whether through a friend or seeing a lot of hearts on your calendar will keep you motivated.

 

 

 

Mountain Top dreamstime_m_20665256 (2)4. Live in the moment. When you are practicing your Me Time take a few minutes to really feel it. Close your eyes and put your imaginary remote control on “Pause.”  Feel everything around you. Stop and try to use each of your senses in what you are doing.  Can you see yourself happier?  Do your shoulders relax? Do you feel a little more refreshed? Do you hear the sounds around you?  Do you smell the wonders of your environment? Do you feel re-energized so you can keep caring for everyone around you because you took a little Me Time? Sensory cataloguing is a great way to revisit your Me Time and re-wire your brain to crave that Me Time so it becomes essential to your well-being.

 

 

Remote Control dreamstime_m_6705349 (2)Now push “Play” on your imaginary remote control and let your Me Time Monday reality show begin!  To view the Me Time Monday videos including how celebrities find their Me Time – visit our Caregiving Club YouTube channel.

 

 

 

 

Note:  This blog is adapted from A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare (sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers and booksellers).

CastofCaregivers Cover FINAL

Caregiving Is A Small World

Global heartCaregiving is a global phenomenon – affecting every culture, every society, every community worldwide.

Click here to read our CEO Sherri’s Snelling’s Huffington Post article on how customs in other countries may help American caregivers on their journey.

Caregiver Health & Wellness Recipe: Eat the Rainbow

Photo: AlexMax/Dreamstime

Photo: AlexMax/Dreamstime

March is National Nutrition Month and while it is sometimes hard for the average person to follow good nutritional guidelines, it is even harder if you are juggling your own healthy eating needs while caring for your loved one.

A study by the National Alliance for Caregiving shows that 38 percent of caregivers who feel their health have declined while caring for a loved one report weight gain or loss.  Skipping meals, eating fast food on the run, turning to non-nutritious snacks to cope with stress can all become part of a caregiver’s nutritional reality.

However, ignoring your own nutritional needs will impact your energy level, your ability to stay focused and alert and your physical and emotional stamina.  If your health starts to go downhill, it can be a slippery slope that can lead to you becoming as ill as or worse than the one you are caring for.  If you become sick, who will replace you to care for your loved one?

Super Foods for Super Heroes – The Caregivers

Photo:  Alexandra Petruk/Dreamstime

Photo: Alexandra Petruk/Dreamstime

Caregiving can be a superhuman role that can zap the physical and mental strength of even Wonder Woman.  When you are feeling overwhelmed, tired and stressed to the max, it is important to keep your powers at their peak.  Food is the fuel that can keep our bodies strong and our minds clear.

If someone told you there was a pill you could take which will lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer and enhance your mood, would you take it?  Well, it may not be a pill but those foods are available at your local grocery.

According to WebMD, here is a grocery list of Super Foods that will ensure you remain a Super You. To make it fun, all you need to think about is “eating the rainbow” – choose colorful foods which typically provide the nutrients, fiber and other physical health needs to keep caregivers going strong.

Photo: Bethany Van Trees/Dreamstime

Photo: Bethany Van Trees/Dreamstime

Fiber keeps cholesterol in check and can aid weight loss since you’ll feel fuller. Look for beans, whole grains, fruit and vegetables.  I try to “eat the rainbow” daily – one food a day which is red, orange, yellow, green and blue makes it fun and easier to remember to add these super foods to your daily diet.

 

 

 

 

Photo: Dreamstime

Photo: Dreamstime

Blueberries are great anti-oxidants and an anti-inflammatory that can lower your risk of heart disease and cancer as well as other chronic illnesses.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Dreamstime

Photo: Dreamstime

Omega-3 rich fish such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel help your heart, joints, memory and some medical professionals believe it can also reduce depression.  A National Alliance for Caregiving study showed that 91 percent of caregivers who say their health has declined suffer from depression.  If you’re not a fish fan, you can also find Omega-3 in walnuts and flax seeds.

 

 

 

Photo: MCWMeng/Dreamstime

Photo: MCWMeng/Dreamstime

Soy such as tofu, soy milk or edamame, as well as almonds, oats and barley lower

  1. In addition, oatmeal can help regulate blood sugar levels which is important for diabetic
  2. (However, if you have a family history of breast cancer, it is not recommended you add soy to your diet).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Dreamstime

Photo: Dreamstime

Tea has been shown in several studies to lower cholesterol.  While the antioxidant power is the same in black tea as green tea; the green version has an added element which studies have found helps inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Batuque/Dreamstime

Photo: Batuque/Dreamstime

Calcium found in dairy foods, salmon (again), leafy green veggies, almonds (again) asparagus and figs build strong bones and helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis – women over age 51 should have 1,200 mg daily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Monkey Business Images/Dreamstime

Photo: Monkey Business Images/Dreamstime

Dark Chocolate – hallelujah!  Dark chocolate – at least 60 percent cocoa content – has eight times the antioxidants as strawberries and can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 10 percent.  But don’t overindulge, 2-3 oz. a day will do it.

And, of course, don’t forget your daily multivitamin.

It is hard to be diligent about diet if you are caregiving.  But, if you can plan your grocery shopping on Mondays (part of your Me Time Monday plan) it might make it easier to remind yourself – every week – that you are as important as the person you are caring for.   Take along this list of Super Foods and stock up – it will help ensure you stay strong so that you can continue being a super hero for your loved one.

 

 

 

CastofCaregivers Cover FINALTo read more about nutritional needs for seniors and family caregivers, get Sherri Snelling’s book, A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare to Care.

You can also read Sherri’s other blogs about nutrition for caregivers and senior loved one’s nutritional needs:

Caregiver Weight Connected to Breast Cancer Risk

David Murdock – 90-year-old billionaire and caregiver

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

How You Can Combat the Senior Hunger Crisis

 

©2015 Sherri Snelling

2015 – Helping Caregivers See the Light

2015 Caregiving ClubAll year long we are dedicated to posting resources and articles that help caregivers better prepare for their role of a lifetime: the unexpected caring of a loved one. Caregiving can take us to dark places but our hope is that armed with information we can help bring light into your life.

Caregiver Solution for Stress: Me Time Monday

Monday calendar dreamstime_14224102 (2)Caregiver Monday is an initiative from the non-profit Healthy Mondays organization that promotes a weekly dose of caregiver self-care to stay strong — physically and emotionally — as a caregiver. Check out Caregiving Club’s Me Time Monday videos (in the right hand sidebar) which support the Caregiver Monday campaign.

To read more about Me Time Monday, click on these article links:

Caregiver RX for Stress: 3 Steps to Me Time Monday for the Huffington Post

Caregiver Solution to New Year’s Resolutions

Watch the Me Time Monday video tips on Caregiving Club’s YouTube channel

Caregiving Resolutions Done Right – Out with the NYRs, In with the MTMs

New Years Scrabble SMALL dreamstime_m_12065390 (2)The start of a New Year is the time we reflect on all the things we wanted to do or should have done yet didn’t get accomplished in the past year.  Thus, we resolve to address these self-makeover wishes in the coming 12 months. “Coulda, shoulda, woulda” is the statement we erase from our vocabulary in January as we hit reset on our bold, ambitious plans. Yet according to the University of Scranton researcher John Norcross and author of Changing for Good, one in four of us make a resolution for the New Year but after six months only 46 percent are still sticking with it.

With the hectic pace of the holidays over, the frenzy over buying gifts and seeing friends and family is done (at least for another 12 months).  You can finally breathe.  That is, unless you are one of the 65 million Americans who are caring for a loved one – the moment to put the world on pause and get a break never seems to happen.

Which is why I feel caregivers should exempt themselves from resolutions all together.  The very nature of resolutions is a reminder of how we failed. This is why I hate them.  I hate being reminded that I have somehow failed in an attempt to accomplish a goal.  Instead of focusing on the negative I try to remind myself failure can be a teacher.  Tragi-comic author, playwright and poet Samuel Becket famously said, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Fail Again. Fail Better.”  I couldn’t say it better.

Now, if you are a caregiver – you are NOT failing – you are accomplishing one of life’s precious goals – caring for another. You may not have enough time for yourself in your caregiving state is why my message to all caregivers is to banish the New Year’s Resolutions (NYRs) and adopt my Me Time Monday (MTM) plan.

Making It Work

Monkey Teeth dreamstime_m_7590920 (2)1. Banish negativity

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in England, author of :59 Seconds and creative consultant to the TV show The Mentalist, says those who fail to keep their resolution have one common pitfall which is focusing on the downside of the goal. You suppress your cravings, fantasize about being successful, adopt a role model or rely on willpower alone. But these aren’t pleasurable experiences, they are torture and you will soon abandon them. He stated in an interview with The Guardian, “Failing to achieve your ambitions is often psychologically harmful because it can rob people of a sense of self control.”

For caregivers, resolutions are even harder especially since you are typically juggling many of life’s balls – children, career and caregiving – and the ball getting dropped is the one that says “self-care.” Adding one more thing to your To Do List in 2014 is enough to make you cry (or scream, or throw something or grab that pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream that makes you feel better, until you step on the scale).  However, there is hope.

Jump for Joy dreamstime_m_5332888 (2)2.      Make a Plan Focused on Personal Joy

My solution for caregivers is to re-wire our brains to think “what am I giving myself” instead of “what am I not going to give myself.”  This year, you are going to give yourself a gift – that’s right – no cutting back, no cutting out and no cutting corners. If you follow these steps, you will not only improve your physical health but your mental health and that is a resolution worth celebrating.  You are going to take the remote control of your life back.

 

 

 

Monday calendar dreamstime_14224102 (2)3.      Use My Me Time Monday℠ Method

When you become a caregiver, you often feel like you entered one of today’s popular reality TV programs – it is like Survivor and The Amazing Race all at once. Instead of frantically looking for clues, or worrying about what the tribe will say  let’s call your 2014 reality show Me Time Monday and there are 52 episodes (one each Monday).

 

What is Me Time?

If you are asking, “What is Me Time?” then we really have to do an extreme makeover on you. Me Time is a concept that has been written about by CNN, Forbes, WebMD and advocated by many of the self-help gurus and health professionals I admire such as Dr. Oz, Louise Hay, Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Alice Domar. It is the essence of self-care which is the balance you need when you are caregiving.

Me Time is how you define it. First of all, you need to make a list of all the things you love to do that are just for you. These are probably things you have abandoned or at least don’t get to as frequently if you are caregiving.

It helps to think about things you loved to do as a kid (bike riding, hopscotch), or activities you enjoyed when you had no pressing responsibilities (such as kids, a job, a husband or a loved one to care for).  Your Me Time may be gardening, reading a good book or magazine, painting or sculpting, getting a mani/pedi, going for a scenic drive or perhaps it is even more youth-oriented such as diving into a new pile of snow or ice skating or walking along the beach collecting seashells (my favorite). Make sure you only list things you love that are just for you – if you wrote down exercise but it’s something you feel you have to do rather than love to do, it’s NOT Me Time.

Why Monday?

Monday is part of our cultural DNA – for most of us, it is the start of the work week, the school week and we feel renewed energy to start something after a nice weekend break. The nonprofit Monday Campaigns was founded in 2005 in association with Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University and Syracuse University in order to apply marketing best practices to public health challenges. According to the research, the Monday Campaigns show a projected 74 percent of American adults over age 25 believe giving healthy intentions a Monday start will make them more lasting throughout the week. Part of The Monday Campaigns is Caregiver Monday, a specific campaign targeted to helping the nation’s caregivers take care of themselves.

“Day in and day out, millions of caregivers give so much of themselves caring for their loved ones that they often neglect their own health and well-being,” says Sid Lerner, founder and chairman, The Monday Campaigns. “Caregiver Monday encourages them to use that first day of each hectic week as their recharge day, to refocus on their own condition to better serve their dependent parent, child or spouse.”

Your Me Time Monday Checklist

Plan B dreamstime_m_21540655 (2)1. Write it down.  Put your Me Time Monday activity on sticky notes. Post these notes on your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, in your wallet, on your smartphone, on your car dashboard – anywhere you will see the words every day.  These are love notes to yourself.

 

 

 

ca. 2003 --- Baby Steps --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis2. Take baby steps. If your Me Time is taking a 30-minute walk to enjoy nature and outdoors (a great stress reliever), start with buying new walking shoes on your first Monday (it’s all about the shopping for me).

The following week it may be getting just a few minutes to walk around the block – you don’t have to achieve 30 minutes on Week 1 – just get started.  Once you get in the groove you will find you plan your Me Time because of the comfort it brings you.

If you miss a week – don’t beat yourself up.  Evaluate what derailed you and see if you can eliminate the obstacle the next week.  What’s great about Me Time Monday – you have 52 chances to stay on track! And you don’t have to do your activity on Monday – just use Monday as your “check in” point for the week – do you know what you are going to do and how to find that time?

Train tracks dreamstime_m_10769462 (2)3. Track your progress. Put a little heart on your weekly calendar when you do your Me Time or tell a friend who can be your cheerleader about your plan and let them applaud your weekly progress (and help give you a caregiving break so you can get your Me Time – see Lotsa Helping Hands as a great way caregivers can get help to get a break).  Getting reinforcement – whether through a friend or seeing a lot of hearts on your calendar will keep you motivated.

 

Mountain Top dreamstime_m_20665256 (2)4. Live in the moment. When you are practicing your Me Time take a few minutes to really feel it. Close your eyes and put your imaginary remote control on “Pause.”  Feel everything around you. Stop and try to use each of your senses in what you are doing.  Can you see yourself happier?  Do your shoulders relax? Do you feel a little more refreshed? Do you hear the sounds around you?  Do you smell the wonders of your environment? Do you feel re-energized so you can keep caring for everyone around you because you took a little Me Time? Sensory cataloguing is a great way to revisit your Me Time and re-wire your brain to crave that Me Time so it becomes essential to your well-being.

 

Remote Control dreamstime_m_6705349 (2)Now push “Play” on your imaginary remote control and let your Me Time Monday reality show begin!  To view the Me Time Monday videos including how celebrities find their Me Time – visit our Caregiving Club YouTube channel.

 

 

 

 

Note:  This blog is adapted from A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare (sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers and booksellers).

CastofCaregivers Cover FINAL

The Health Risks of Being “The Good Daughter”

 

Grandmother with adult daughter and grandchildIn this interview for Caring.com, Sherri talks to a caregiver who was a good daughter, a good niece and good mother – caring for everyone around her but neglecting her own health needs.  Studies show caregivers typically put their own health at risk and are twice as likely to develop chronic illness earlier in life due to the prolonged stress of caregiving.

Read Sherri’s articles on how caregivers can:

Use Me Time Monday to Stay Healthy and Happy

7 Magnificent Ways to Avoid Burn-Out

Caregiver Stress is No Joke

 

The Monday Prescription for Better Caregiver Health

Monday calendar dreamstime_14224102 (2)Caregiver Monday is an initiative from the non-profit Healthy Mondays organization that promotes a weekly dose of caregiver self-care to stay strong — physically and emotionally — as a caregiver. Check out Caregiving Club’s Me Time Monday videos (in the right hand sidebar) which support the Caregiver Monday campaign.

 

To read more about Me Time Monday, click on these article links:

Caregiver RX for Stress: 3 Steps to Me Time Monday for the Huffington Post

Caregiver Solution to New Year’s Resolutions

Watch the Me Time Monday video tips on Caregiving Club’s YouTube channel

Huffington Post Articles

Huffington-Post-Logo3Following are Sherri’s articles for Huffington Post:

8 Ways to Volunteer to Help America’s Largest Volunteer Health Care Work Force: Family Caregivers

An Essential Caregiving Fairy Tale: Sleeping Beauty

Caregiver RX for Stress: 3 Steps to Me Time Monday

Caregiving Conversation Between Your Heart and Your Head

Caregiving Goes to the Oscars (2013)

Caregiving Is A Small World After All

Caregiving’s Lost Generation: The Nation’s Children

Caring for Those Heroes with Invisible Wounds

Creating Company Culture that Cares About Caregivers

How to Manage the Sandwich Generation Juggling Act – 8 Childish Things Caregivers Should Do

Let the Caregiving Movement Begin with the Caregiver Bill of Rights

Mars vs. Venus On Caregiver Stress

Rizzoli & Isles Creator is on the Case

September – National Healthy Aging Month

Young Old FaceSeptember is when we celebrate healthy aging. Read our blogs all month on how caregivers can find resources, tips and time to age gracefully and in healthy ways.

 

 

 

 

Read the celebrity interview with David Murdock, billionaire CEO on healthy aging

National Relaxation Day – August 15

August 15 is National Relaxation Day. If you are a caregiver, stress is your biggest enemy – what will you do to relax today (and every day)?  Read our blogs all month on stress relief for caregivers.

7 Ways the Sandwich Generation can beat burn-out

nuweston/dreamstime

nuweston/dreamstime

Contributing to Examiner.com, Sherri Snelling’s first article offers 7 magnificent ways for caregivers to manage stress and avoid burn-out. Approximately 47% of Americans in their 40s and 50s are considered the “Sandwich Generation” – those who are caring for both children and older parents.  The “Sandwich Generation Juggling Act” is balancing children + career + caregiving but often means neglecting self-care.  Read the full article here for 7 tips on achieving better health and wellness.