Archive of ‘Caregiving’ category

Losing A Pet

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

Anatole France

I’ve always been an animal lover from an early age. There was always something about animals that has continually drawn me in. I love looking into the eyes of an animal and knowing they see me too as my raw authentic self. Animals see us for who we are – truly human. They not only see us as our authentic selves, but they also harness a great capacity to love us just as purely as they see us. It’s a beautiful relationship that is unexplainable, intangible, and yet more real than many of our human relationships.

I was 23 when I got my first dog on my own. As soon as I saw her big brown eyes, I knew she was meant to be mine. Heidi was full of spunk and energy. She had a rough start to her life, and she was unsure of how to trust other humans and animals. I knew, under all that fear,  she had a big open heart and was yearning for the opportunity to be taught basic needs like love, safety, and companionship. We set out on our own adventure together, just her and I. Over the years we conquered many fears and had many laughs. She gained a few furry siblings and learned how to be a great big doggy sister. Her intelligence was unmatched as she learned commands, tricks, and even found her own way home after a Beyonce concert (That’s a story for a different post!)

Similarly to human relationships, our relationships with our furry companions also come to an end. The death of a pet is a very real, painful, and surreal experience, much like grieving a person, marriage, or job loss. The transition of losing a pet is incredibly challenging and often misunderstood. Unfortunately, I’ve had to walk this journey recently as Heidi has made her transition across the Rainbow Bridge. In my grief, I’ve noticed several things that were really crucial for me in my healing process. 

Self Care Is A Must

I can’t stress this enough – please take care of yourself in the same way you would if you were experiencing a loss of any other kind. Your body and soul will require comfort and nourishment during the time after the loss of your animal. You may find yourself feeling tired, tearful, sad, angry, confused…. All of which are normal and valid experiences of grief. Allow yourself time and space to operate at a lesser capacity than normal. Try to get an extra few hours of sleep, or have a satisfying comforting meal. Some other examples of self care for people include meditations, exercise, tending to a garden, reading a book, seeing a therapist, or journaling. Whatever your form of self care is, utilize it and allow extra time in your day for more than normal. Be kind to yourself in this tough time. 

Reach Out For Support

Grief is an incredibly isolating experience. Each person’s grief is solely their own, both in the way it is experienced and the way it is processed. However, there are people around to lean on during that time. Take advantage of your loved ones who are ready to support you in your own process. When Heidi passed, I knew there was nothing anyone could do or say to fix the pain I was feeling, but the outpouring of love and support was so helpful in those first few weeks. I had people reach out via text and snail mail to send their condolences and favorite memories of Heidi. Friends showed up with dinner at my home and sent cookie care packages to show they care. I definitely needed that love and support in that time, and I am so grateful I had people in my support system show up for me. I made sure to connect with friends and family who had also experienced the loss of a pet to feel understood and validated in my feelings, and I created boundaries around those who I felt may not have understood as well. It’s perfectly okay to limit time and energy with those who aren’t as supportive to protect your own well being and health. Set kind and firm boundaries with yourself and others around the support you need in your grief. 

Find Ways To Honor Their Memory

Just as we hope to have meaning with our own lives, it’s important to honor the meaning our pets’ lives have for us as well. Finding creative ways to honor your animal’s journey and the love you shared can be incredibly healing. Some great ideas include planting a memorial tree or garden, donating some money in their name to a local animal shelter, painting a rainbow and portrait on a canvas, or creating a digital scrapbook with pictures and videos of your life together. Create a tangible way to revisit all of your special memories with your beloved furry family member so you’ll always have a piece of them with you. 

Losing an animal is never easy. My heart goes out to those who are struggling with the loss of a pet. You deserve to be held in tenderness and compassion during your grief. Be sure to seek out counseling if you believe you could benefit from extra support and coping skills regarding the loss of your pet. There are some great resources available for those who are grieving over the death of an animal that I have found incredibly helpful during this time. 

Books: 

Always By My Side: Life Lessons from Millie and All the Dogs I’ve Loved – Edward Grinnan

Dog Heaven – Cynthia Rylant

The Loss Of A Pet – Wallace Sife

Podcasts:

The Pet Loss Podcast

Healing Pet Loss Podcast

Written by: Sara Balkanli, LPC-Associate Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S


Child & Adolescent Nutrition 101

Early childhood and adolescent nutrition is a lost educational opportunity in many sectors. There are a few ways to approach the introduction of foods to a child at an early age for them to develop a healthy relationship with food from birth. Here are a few of my tips I give to parents and adolescents to help them shape a healthy relationship with foods and their bodies.

Remember to include a variety of foods on the plate.

Whether color, textures, flavors, or nutritional components (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, additional micronutrient rich foods like fruits/vegetables).

Remember to not ‘force’ your child to eat just because it’s a designated ‘meal’ time.

Provide them with a variety of foods on a plate and trust and nurture the idea that when your child is hungry they will get to the food that has been prepared and plated for them.

Allow your child to have at least 10 exposures to a food before deciding that they don’t ‘like’ it.

Research from the American Journal of clinical nutrition shows increased acceptability of foods after 8-10 of repetitive exposure. Just because your child doesn’t like a food the first time they try it, doesn’t mean they actually don’t like it, it may be that they have never experienced that flavor, texture, smell, etc, and will develop tolerance to it over time.

Mirror a healthy relationship with food yourself (inclusion of all foods).

Children heavily rely on learning cues from adults and older siblings, so your relationship with foods and the terminology you use around foods (good v bad foods) molds your child’s view of food too.

Secondary to childhood, adolescence is a time in which a child’s relationship to food and their bodies’ can be highly sensitive. And the education surrounding adolescent nutrition is heavily laced with dieting messages, which promote the development of disorder eating, eating disorders, low self-esteem, low self-worth, etc. Society relies heavily on media (social, TV, ads, magazines, etc.) to give our kids the information that they need in regards to caring for themselves well and making sure they know why food is important. Hard facts are that they get incredibly misinformative information that is entrenched  in what we know as DIET CULTURE. 

DIET CULTURE is known to be a system of beliefs that worship ideals surrounding thinness, equating it to moralistic virtues of more acceptability, love, and overall worth, regardless of true health status/vitals. 

Diet Culture gives very sneaky messages surrounding food holding moralistic weight/value. In the most general sense, food serves the purpose to nourish and nurture growth and development in adolescence. Engagement in dieting behaviors, can increase risk for malnutrition, delayed development/growth, and bone fractures/breakage. 

Here’s some ‘go-to’ basic nutritional information surrounding the value of all foods: 

Carbohydrates (no matter the source-whether ‘refined/white’ or whole grains): are broken down by the body and converted to glucose (blood sugar) to help cells have the energy needed to send signals to different parts of the body for functioning; Provide the brain exclusively with the energy it needs to think and process information clearly and effectively; Provides energy for organ/organ systems to run at optimal capacity.

Proteins (no matter if it’s higher or lower in fat content): Provides energy for muscle, cell, and tissue repair, growth, and regeneration (creation). 

Fats (no matter the source-whether saturated (animal sources) or unsaturated (plant sources): Provide energy for body temperature regulation; energy needed for absorption of vitamins & minerals; energy needed for protection of vital organs; energy needed to facilitate hormone balance (develops in adolescence-estrogen, progesterone, testosterone).  

For additional resources and materials surrounding Childhood & Adolescent Nutrition from an Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size (HAES) lens, check out:

Books:

Intuitive Eating Workbook for Teens: A Non-Diet, Body Positive Approach to Building a Healthy Relationship with Food

By: Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch

Born to Eat 

By: Leslie Schilling & Wendy Jo Peterson

Celebrate Your Body (and its changes, too!): The Ultimate Puberty Book for Girls

By: Sonya Renee Taylor

Videos:

Poodle Science

Research on Food Exposures:

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/issue/109/Supplement_1

Written By: Tess M Patterson MS RD LD


How Can Chiropractic Care Help with Symptoms of Dementia?

Degenerative diseases of the brain are becoming common with the elderly. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, one out of three seniors dies with a degenerative brain disorder like Alzheimer’s or dementia. In the last two decades, deaths from Alzheimer’s have grown by almost 150%. It’s no secret that dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are serious problems that require serious care. And, in the same study regarding Alzheimer’s Disease, half of primary care physicians believe that the health-care industry is not prepared to handle the onslaught of dementia.

Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease have similar symptoms. Common symptoms include memory loss, concentration problems, confusion with familiar tasks, difficulty communicating, mood changes, and anxiety.

Types of Dementia

There are several types of dementia, not just Alzheimer’s. Most involve memory loss and confusion, but they manifest with other problems. For example, vascular dementia also include problems that look like stroke side effects, like difficulty walking, temporary paralysis, and other movement problems. Another type of dementia includes Lewy bodies. People with this diagnosis will have periods of being alert, then suddenly drowsy. They also have visual hallucinations and are likely to fall. The other type of dementia is frontotemporal, which manifests in a changed personality where the patient does not know how to behave in a socially appropriate way. People with frontotemporal dementia often struggle to communicate and they become obsessive. As people move through the stages of dementia, they lose their social awareness, their personalities change, and lose bladder and bowel control. Most people with dementia problems are over age 65, but there are younger people between 45 and 65 who show signs of the growing problem.

Growth of Dementia Diagnoses

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease have both been studied extensively in recent years. Dementia diseases do not have cures, but researchers believe that the cure is somewhere in the brain. There are several ways to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s, but the diseases will continue to run their course until the patient is no longer living. Dementia – the degenerative brain disease – is practically at an epidemic level, as the growth over the last twenty years shows. Fortunately, there are treatments available, including chiropractic care. When you recognize how chiropractic care works, it becomes easy to see why a neurological problem like dementia can be treated with a health-care program that values the spine.

Causes and Prevention

The latest research shows that there are several factors that increase the risk of developing dementia. They include hypertension, hearing impairments, diabetes, social isolation, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity, head injury, physical inactivity, and air pollution.
Research also shows that prevention for dementia should start at a young age and continue through the elder years. All children should receive primary and secondary education. The dangers of drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes should be shared with the public so people will avoid both to reduce their risks of developing dementia. Public health should train people to eat healthy foods so they avoid developing type-2 diabetes and other obesity-related problems. With healthy diets, people sleep better and are less likely to develop hypertension.

It is also important for people who need hearing aids to get them. Hearing loss is often a precursor to dementia. Finally, people should be able to live in communities that do not have excessive air pollution and homes should be free of second-hand smoke. Dementia care should include multidimensional treatments for the whole body. And, this is where chiropractic care comes into play. Many dementia patients take medications, but they only cover the problem, not solve it. Because so many people have dementia, Medicare is covering chiropractic care as a treatment because the care has proven to improve health, cognitive function, and life in general.

How Chiropractic Care Helps People with Dementia

Chiropractic care is dedicated to the maintenance of the central nervous system including the brain and spinal cord. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are degenerative brain disorders, so chiropractic care directly affects parts of the body affected by these diseases.

Feeding the Brain

There is research that shows the brain needs to have certain nutrients to function properly. When those nutrients are blocked, the brain changes and loses certain functions. When there are subluxations or misalignments in the spine, the body and the brain do not work as they should. Chiropractic care realigns the spine by removing the subluxations. The result is that
nerves can operate properly so nutrients can reach the brain, returning the spine and brain to normal function.

Typical Treatment Options

At this point, chiropractic care does not cure dementia or Alzheimer’s, but it does serve as a realistic treatment. Chiropractors work with patients who have problems with spine-related pain, joint stiffness, and extremity pain. Research shows that many of those problems manifest themselves as acute pain or restricted mobility. Most chiropractors use similar treatments:
● Myofascial therapies
● Ischemic compression
● Mechanical percussion
● Muscle stretching
● Thrust manipulation

Collaborative Changes to Meet Patient Needs

Patients who needed neurorehabilitation usually needed treatments that were different from the typical movement-related choices. According to research, people who needed chiropractic care for neurological conditions, like dementia, had chiropractors who developed collaborative plans with other health care providers. The programs required longer visits and non-standard treatment ideas. Chiropractors had to adapt to each patient’s cognitive issues and problems with communication.

Slowing Memory Loss

Chiropractic care is not a miracle solution for any degenerative brain disease, but it can help ease the symptoms. Some patients have found that chiropractic care has slowed their memory loss. Chiropractic care will not bring back lost memories, but research shows that thoughtful,
collaborative chiropractic will help maintain the status quo. Chiropractic care also helps improve musculoskeletal function in dementia patients.


If you have a loved one who is suffering through a type of dementia, you want the best for them. Rather than watching them go through the daily struggles, a chiropractor might be able to help slow the speed of degeneration. Your health care provider and a chiropractor can work together to improve your loved one’s quality of life, even in just a small way.

If you or a loved one is suffering from dementia check out this blog about counseling services for dementia related concerns.

Written By: Dr. Brent Wells.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His chiropractic practice has treated thousands of Juneau patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief. Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.



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