UP FOR DISCUSSION … Are you aware of the level of trauma caregivers face every day as they go about the challenges of caregiving? Until you hear it directly from an expert, I don’t think we fully appreciate why it is so critically important to make that extra effort to open up our yoga mats!

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This morning, I spent an hour with Dr. Miguel Rivera, better known to area caregivers as The Dementia Doc.  Recorded from a presentation he gave recently at the Senior Friendship Center I watched Dr. Rivera speak honestly about his own personal challenges as a caregiver for both his parents.  He reminded a room full of caregivers about the trauma inherent in caregiving and had some excellent advice for those of us who tend to struggle with putting our feelings about caregiving into words.

It starts with awareness, of course, but even if we are aware of our emotions, I think we caregivers tend to disconnect from ourselves and others instead of facing up to those feelings.  We’ll deal with them later!  There is just too much else to be done.  Dr. Rivera does an excellent job of defining what can happen when we choose to avoid dealing with the trauma, and even discusses the kinds of behaviors that are likely to begin creeping in when we choose to stifle those emotions.  When relaxation, respite, escape, and release become too much effort in our day-to-day we tend to numb the emotions in a variety of ways that adversely affect us in our own well-being and physical health.  That behavior can be life-threatening.  So, as he explains, the yoga mat just cannot stay rolled up in the car.  Self-care is critically important to our own wellness, and that of the loved one(s) we are caring for!

In Dr. Rivera’s indelible fashion, he does not leave us empty-handed, but instead takes us caregivers through two simple but restorative exercises – Soft Belly Breathing and Expressive Meditation.  In the span of ten minutes, he shows us a way to restore calm, shake off the stored negative emotions and stress, and in essence effect a “reset” from the trauma at hand.  Just ten minutes of restorative self-help that can be done alone, at any time of the day or night, and leaves the group laughing and applauding as the endorphins flow.

I invite you to check out this video at Caregiver’s Forum Recording – Senior Friendship Centers   and suggest you keep it in your favorites for frequent viewing.  You will see he mentions a follow-up class this March 23rd, at the Senior Friendship Center called Caregivers Rescue II!  I laughed a little when I saw the title, as Dr. Rivera has come to my rescue over the years more than once.  I think that is exactly what The Dementia Doc finds real joy in doing – coming to the rescue of both his patient and their caregiver in doing everything he can to ease the symptoms of dementia while focusing on their best possible quality of life.  He treats both individuals – patient and family caregiver – rare in today’s medical community!



UP FOR DISCUSSION:  How about you? Is your self-care routine last on your list of daily activities?  Should it be moved higher – maybe even made the priority for today?  Is there a rolled-up yoga mat gathering dust in your car?  What is keeping you from connecting with it frequently for a much-needed reset?  Please share your comments below.

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