Tag Archives: wellness

How Care Partners Can Embrace Wellness and Joy

I was privileged to speak yesterday to the Dallas Area Parkinson’s Society (DAPS)  about how care partners can embrace wellness and joy.  For persons living with Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological conditions, finding wellness and joy in everyday life can be challenging and elusive at best.  I know this first-hand, as my mother lived with Parkinson’s Disease (PD).  Speaking from experience as her partner in this journey, my words of wisdom for embracing wellness and joy encompassed some simple steps.

  1.  First, pat yourself on the back for the bravery and courage it takes to face PD.  It’s not always a friendly companion.  I love the hummingbird as a symbol of tireless joy and accomplishing that which seems impossible.  Care partners remember every day how special you are.
  2. There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path, but don’t allow yourself to become one of them.  Accept your faults and imperfections and move on with.  Those who linger on imperfection will never experience wellness or joy.
  3. Be like the sun,  and shine even if no one ever thanks you for it! Expecting of others is almost always a road to disappointment, so shine your light if for no one else but yourself!   Others will see it, I promise!
  4. Live for today and only today.  We spend far too much time worrying about what could happen tomorrow and missing the precious moments that this day brings.
  5. When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate;  when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.   We’ll be better people for embracing both as a gift.
  6. Do all in your power to reduce stress.  If you are getting on your own nerves, it may be time for re-grouping!  Stress affects our physical, social, emotional and spiritual well being.  Learn ways to cope with and reduce stress such as:
    • Practice deep breathing throughout the day.  Fully fill those lungs and then a long, slow exhale through the mouth.  Deep breathing reduces stress, improves posture, relieves pain and boosts energy, among many other health benefits.
    • Keep moving.   When you don’t feel like moving do it anyway.  Your body, brain and well being will thank you.  Find exercise groups specifically for PD.  You’ll have the added benefit of connecting with others while improving your balance, energy, and stamina.
    • Laugh…often!  Laughter changes the chemicals in our brain and makes us feel good all over.  And it’s okay to laugh at ourselves.  In fact, you might start there!
    • Get creative.  Research tells us that persons living with PD often have more creative brains.  Think about this.  You have to find ways to do things differently.  So start a new creative adventure and embrace it.  You might just surprise yourself!
    • Connect with others.  Intentionally hug and touch (all brain boosting, chemical changing things happen when you touch!).  This will add meaning to your life that has immeasurable benefits.
    • Embrace the Journey.  It was not what you had planned, nor one you would have chosen, but it’s yours.  Sweet, precious moments of joy, happiness, and wellness will come out of this practice.  You will enrich your life and the lives of those around you.

Pam Brandon is the President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institut and a passionate advocate for those living with Parkinson’s Disease and their care partners.  She feels blessed each day for the Parkinson’s journey that she and her mother Jeanette shared for almost 10 years.   

The Dallas Area Parkinson’s Society is celebrating almost 40 years of impacting and improving the lives of those affected by Parkinson’s Disease.  The work they do and others across the country is helping to create transformative change.





The “Helper’s High”… Why Volunteering is Good for Your Health

512073Research has shown that volunteering leads to better health and that older volunteers are the most likely to receive physical and mental health benefits from their volunteer activities.  Volunteering often leads to what is referred to as a “helper’s high”.

This high leads to increased trust in others as well as increased social participation. Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.

Aging changes social networks, so older volunteers especially benefit from the physical and social activity and gaining a sense of purpose.  Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health and that older volunteers are the most likely to receive physical and mental health bene ts from their volunteer activities.

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ―Winston S. Churchill

Having just returned from the N4A conference (National Association of Area Agencies on Aging),  I learned that AAA’s rely on more than 90,000 volunteers to meet community needs.  Their “Doing Good is Good for You: Volunteer!” program helps recruit new volunteers and educate older adults about the health benefits of volunteering.

The AAA Stepping Up program offers webinars and assignments for volunteers to serve in their mission of helping older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible.

The boomers have many opportunities to volunteer, and this is one of many organizations that will benefit, especially as the needs for serving this population and their caregivers rises drastically in the future.  Numerous studies show that volunteering just two hours per week improves cognitive, emotional and physical health.

The future of aging services in this country will rely heavily on the knowledge, talent and care hearts that Boomers and future generations have to offer.  Beyond the health and wellness benefits, volunteering will benefit our communities at all levels from social services, faith based communities and non-profit providers across the spectrum who are partnering together to meet the challenges of our aging world.

For more information on volunteering with an Area Agency on Aging, visit www.areagencyonaging.org/…/volunteer-opportunities

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, whose mission is to provide transformative change through innovative aging and dementia education  and training.