Archive for the ‘Caregiving’ Category


You can listen to our interview and discussion about bringing wellness tools to caregivers on the eCareDiary blog talk radio

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We all know the stresses of caregiving. The stresses are so familiar, there is a popular term for them- caregiver burnout.

Wellness tools can help  relieve  caregiver burnout.
Our wellness kit, Seasons of Care™,  helps caregivers strengthen their inner resilience, alleviate the stresses, and  supports better  communication between the caregiver and the person receiving care.

Seasons of Care™ includes a collection of meditations written and produced specifically for caregivers.

You can sample one here,  to help you Catch Your Breath div> .

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And who doesn’t need the simple gift of grace, especially when it comes wrapped in the captivating, heavenly compelling magic of the Tango!??

That simple gift of grace is medicine for more than downed spirits of a lonely heart or the pining over a lost love–it’s also REAL MEDICINE-

Tango is being used therapeutically with people suffering with Parkinson’s Disease.
Studies have shown that the pleasurable effects of tango decreased falls, shuffling, and improved balance and that the experience of dancing with a partner increased desire to exercise and  participate with others.

Look here at Washington University School of Medicine?play=tango

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“I’ve written How to Be Sick to help inspire the chronically ill and their caregivers as they meet the challenges posed by any chronic illness or condition…..”  These honest, friendly  and noble words greet readers of this unusual memoir written by Toni Bernhard.

After becoming ill in May 2001, Toni began her challenge of living with chronic illness –  and delving into the depths of the Buddha’s teaching

Though blurbs on the cover of the book say, true enough, that  “Readers need not be Buddhist to benefit…” regardless —  for readers with any sort of meditation practice, How to Be Sick has the truth and clarity of  applied physics. The art of meditation becomes more than philpsophical; and the insights and clarity gained from a  meditation practice are shared with undeniable authenticity.

We are all scared of chronic illness. And those of us who have cared for loved ones who had such suffering have met personal challenge and limitation. How to Be Sick illuminates that shared experience of chronic illness and offers hope that there is a way to walk that most unwelcomed path with real courage and grace.

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Transitional Keys presents Seasons of Care, a wellness kit for caregivers.

The first element of the kit is a CD of guided meditations written specifically for caregivers.  The symptoms of caretiver burnout are similar to stress and depression. According to the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University Massachuettes Medical School, meditation can provide:

  • Lasting decreases in physical and psychological symptoms of stress
  • An increased ability to relax
  • Reductions in pain levels and an enhanced ability to cope with pain and discomfort that may not go away
  • Greater energy and enthusiasm for life
  • Improved self-esteem
  • An ability to cope more effectively with both short and long-term stressful situations.

CD for $17.00

First 50 requests FREE SHIPPING if inside the United States

CONTACT US:  info@TransitionalKeys.org

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An enlightened approach to Alzheimer Care

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Published in ASA Aging Today Online
New York Zen Center Program Could Transform Healthcare for Elders
by Andrea Sherman

Our society has made demons out of illness and death. With tireless integrity and compassion, the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care prescribes the Buddha’s medicine: sanctity of life, vows of service and letting go.”
—Roshi Bernie Glassman, Ph.D.

image via New York Zen Center www.zencare.org
In September of this year, I became a student in the Foundations of Contemplative Care program offered through the New York Zen Center. My motivation came from my desire to integrate spirituality into the training and practice of my professional and personal work in creativity, aging and person-centered care.
For 10 weekends during the year, students with varying backgrounds such as nurses, social workers, priests, hospice workers, doctors, therapists, caregivers, and other professions participated in this Buddhist-centered inquiry into the practice of service to others. The interfaith, experience-based program is geared to professionals with a wide array of experiences in life, caregiving, Buddhism and other spiritual practices.
To complete the program, participants must complete 100 hours of volunteer caregiving, supervisions, readings, monthly reflection papers, verbatim, doing advanced directives, and a final project. Each month there is a focus on a Zen Buddhist precept. This training structure offers ethical guidelines that “frame” each month. The precepts are:
  • Not killing.
  • Not stealing.
  • Not misusing sex.
  • Not lying.
  • Not giving or taking drugs.
  • Not discussing faults of others.
  • Not praising yourself while abusing others.
  • Not sparing the dharma assets.
  • Not indulging in anger.
  • Not defaming the three treasures.
Participants consider the precepts from three perspectives: literal, relational, and intrinsic. Another way to translate this is to pose three questions for the precepts: Does the action of my physical body uphold this precept? Does my action free others from suffering, and, not being separate (intrinsic meaning of no separation)?
Contemplative care is an approach to spiritual care and can be helpful to those caring for older adults who are ill, suffering, and dying.
The following excerpts from an interview with Robert Chodo Campbell, Zen priest, co-founder and co-executive director of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, illustrate some of the program’s key concepts.
Question: What is contemplative caregiving?
Campbell: One can only be as intimate with another person as they are with themselves, to find intimacy with one’s self there has to be a capacity for deep introspection and reflection, or we could call that contemplating. I think it’s really important to know who we are on a deep psychological and emotional level if we are professionals taking care of others. Out of a contemplative practice we learn to realize that there is separateness and there is no separation with the other. I think that’s what contemplative caring is, caring for the other, wholeheartedly, without getting lost in their journey. This is their journey, not mine and yet we are companions. In a way we are guiding each other.
Question: What is presence?
Campbell: Presence quite simply is being present to one’s self and other, with no separation, presence is being fully aware of what is occurring in one’s self in each moment. Presence is breath. Presence is inhale-exhale.
Putting the Foundations Program into Practice
In the first meeting of the Foundations in Contemplative Care program, participants learn about the Three Treasures:
  • Not-knowing or formlessness.
  • Bearing witness of the relationships unfolding within and without us.
  • Loving action.
Not knowing is to give up fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe. Bearing witness is to see the joy and the suffering of the world, and the expression of loving actions to us and to others. This translates into practice as I learn to enter the room of the hospice resident, and to “greet the room” as I enter, not knowing, scanning myself before entering the room, and “reading the room energy” I enter, in, to be present. This is attunement, tuning in. The three wheels are:
  • Myself.
  • The person.
  • The time and space of our connection.
Then, I bear witness to the person and to myself, practicing “being” with joy, and with suffering. Feeling the courage, remembering that “it’s not what you do, it’s who you are.” We practice active listening to the person, an older person who is ill with chronic disease, and perhaps listening to someone who is actively dying, contemplating the images that are presented to us. Loving action can be the spiritual presence and energetic space of prayer, allowing the person to be where they are, and opening to the “tender and awakened heart.”
A goal of the program is for us to become “awake” for all of those that we encounter as caregivers, and to respect the dignity of all human beings. Since the program’s inception, contemplative care has been provided to 14,977 hospice and hospital patients, 3,839 healthcare providers and staff, 2,469 workshop participants, 21 units at Beth Israel Medical Center, and 8 hospice suites at VNSNY Hospice.
Question: Do health professionals learn to practice presence?
Campbell: When you leave one patient, before going to the next, take a deep breath. This simple ritual symbolizes being present to what you are fully in this moment—not taking the last patient into the room of the next patient. So where is your breath, where is your mind?
The important thing for any caregiver, particularly for those who care for a dying person is to be fully conscious of the fact that we are dying too. To think differently denies one’s truth. When we realize we are dying in each moment, life becomes that much more precious.
There is no separation between life and death. We are dying from the moment we are born. Life and death go hand in hand. If you could see that you and I are hand in hand then there is no separation. When I am taking care of you, I am taking care of myself. Simple.
Contemplative Care and its practices could transform care for elders and their concerns, fears, and ultimately their legacy and the meaning of life and of death. The contemplative care model includes providing compassionate care for the healthcare community, and creates an integrative and nurturing model of care that is self-reflective and transformative.
Andrea Sherman, Ph.D., is co-founder and co-author of Transitional Keys, a lifecycle transitions program that uses multi-disciplinary arts to ease, assist and enhance change and transitions. She is on the FORSA Editorial Board, and is a student in the Foundations of Buddhist Contemplative Care program.

Robert Chodo Campbell, HHC is a co-founder and co-executive director of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. He serves on the Core Faculty for the Center’s Buddhist Chaplaincy Training Programs, and is a Senior Zen Buddhist Priest at Village Zendo in New York City.
For information about the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, please e-mail info@zencare.org or visit www.zencare.org.

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