Tag Archives: caregiver support

Caregiver Advice: GO OUTSIDE!

Today is Sunday and it’s a beautiful day. Don’t hate me if I’m inspired to preach. My sermon will be short: GO OUTSIDE! While you think of all the obstacles that could keep you from doing that, here are some good reasons why you must.

Between the Pond and the Woods

Butterfly garden at Nescopeck State Park

A nice stroll and the smell of grass will go a long way to helping you feel good if you don’t have time to do more. This can be accomplished even if you need to cajole someone else to go with you — or push a loved one’s wheelchair. The Alzheimer’s site recommends the following joint outdoor activities to promote caregiver health:

  • Take a walk together outside to enjoy the fresh air
  • Go to the mall and stroll there
  • Garden or do other routine activities that you both enjoy

Do you need more reasons to go out and move around?

  • Research like the Evercare study shows that caregivers’ health suffers due to their lack of time and energy to prepare proper meals or to exercise. In this national survey, 60% of caregivers said that their eating (63%) and exercise  (58%) habits were worse than before.
  • A study by Haley, et al, showed that caregivers are at risk for increased mortality, coronary heart disease and stroke, particularly under conditions of high strain.

I’m ending the list here since almost everyone knows the bad news already. Instead, let’s consider the good news. The Mayo Clinic says that just a regular brisk walk can help you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent/manage heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones
  • Lift your mood
  • Improve your balance and coordination

If that isn’t enough to get you off the couch, consider these sage words from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“In the woods, a man casts off his years…I feel that nothing can befall me in life — no disgrace, no calamity, which nature cannot repair. In the woods we return to reason and faith.” [from his essay on Nature]

I may be old fashioned, but I love reading Emerson’s tributes to nature and its power to transform the way we feel. Since I am a bit modern, too, I can also condense the forty pages of Emerson’s essay to one excellent idea: GO OUTSIDE!

Making Sense of Alzheimer’s — A New Online Resource

Americans crave independence. The concept colors our sense of history and our visions of the future. But people with dementia — and their families — often find their independence thwarted by the disease. In time for 4th of July, the Penn Memory Center has launched www.makingsenseofalzheimers.org  a new website with videos, music, and stories that may aid families bewildered by dementia.


Working with the team developing this site has been a great privilege for me. I’m grateful that they decided to publish a piece I wrote about mediation and its benefits for caregivers. I hope you’ll take a look at the article called “The Struggle for Peace of Mind.” It also features one of my favorite photos of my mom.  

Since the Making Sense of Alzheimer’s site is still in development, I would love to hear any reactions (good or bad!) to the various videos, radio pieces, and stories now online. Please send suggestions about items you’d find helpful, informative, or entertaining as you face the daily challenges of dealing with dementia.

While you take a look at what’s offered, I’m also sending out a wish that your Independence Day experience brings you fireworks, friendship, and new sources of needed strength.