Over time an issue in dealing with an elderly loved one is how to compassionately talk with mom, dad, aunt or family member who exhibits the denial of declining health. This was a major area for me to handle during my family caregiving experiences so I included several suggestions and techniques for you to use in Stepping Up: A Companion and Guide to Family Caregivers.


THESE ARE SOME techniques to use when communicating with elderly parents or family members:


• _Be aware and sensitive to how you respond when talking to an aging or cognitively-challenged person. Sometimes, they can’t find the words to say what they want to say or it takes them longer to find them.


• _Know that the older person usually understands and is aware of far more than they can say in words.


• _Create a comfortable environment to have conversations.


• _Smile and touch them as you talk.


• _Make a guess at what their response might be and see if they shake their heads in the affirmative that may say, “That’s right.”


• _Use a normal speaking voice and talk slowly if you are a fast talker.


• _Try changing the pitch of your voice (low or high) if you think there’s a hearing problem not addressed.


• _Display positive body language—eye contact, good posture, and a smile.


• _Restate your message concisely and straightforward.    


            • _Be patient.


Try these 10 techniques for now and the next post will offer 10 more techniques for successfully talking with your loved ones. These and many other tactics, tips and ideas on this subject and other basic tasks all family caregivers will perform are offered in Stepping Up: A Companion and Guide for Family Caregivers.  To order your personal copy of Stepping Up click here.



The brain gets fatigued after 60-90 minutes of concentrated effort especially when caring for a elderly loved one. At times it may appear we have everything under control even when we are getting things accomplished and don't want interrupt with a break. However, our brain will function better and for longer if we give it a chance to rest and recuperate. Stepping Up:A Companion and Guide for Family Caregivers offers many helpful tips and strategies on taking care of yourself during these times. In addition to the book's techniques, I recently discovered another way to refresh the brain from Linda Graham, MFT. She recommends if you can't take a full day or a full weekend to refresh your brain and recover resilience try the technique below to give your brain a breather in your busy day.

Every 60- 90 minutes:

1. Pause. Take a few seconds to come to conscious awareness of being present and aware in this moment.

2. Bring to the mind one moment of difficulty, pain, suffering and loss from the past. Feel every facet of the memory-visual images of what happened, all the people you were with, any emotions you felt then or any emotions you feel now. As you remember the event, notice any thoughts you have about yourself now as you remember this event.

3. Shift the focus of your awareness to reflect on how you coped with the event and its aftermath. What lessons did you learn? What wisdom did you pull out of the misfortune you were in? What would you do differently, now, having coped with and survived as you did?

4. Shift the focus of your awareness again to how you feel about yourself now. Do you notice any sense of self-acceptance, pride or strength available to you now? 

5. Shift the focus of your attention once more. Notice anything in your surroundings or circumstances, right now, or anything you encounter during the rest of the day that brings even a small acknowledgement of delight: the warmth of the sun on your face, the bitter sweetness of a piece of chocolate, the memory of a recent conversation with a friend. 

6. Take 30 seconds to simply be with and appreciate the joy and pleasure of the moment - let any warm penetration feeling sink into your body. Savor the feeling.

Again, try this and other techniques in Stepping Up:A Companion and Guide for Family Caregivers to assure you resilience from family caregiving and other overwhelming experiences. The book is available on this site, Amazon or your local bookstore.  

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Chocolate is Delicious and Soothing

Recently, I read an article that I feel will be of interest to you as you deal with challenges in your life whether it is family caregiving or not. This information will especially delight the ‘chocolate lovers’ reading this blog. As my friends say, “a little chocolate won’t hurt anybody and it is good for the soul”. (Smile)

The article discussed how to recover and regain yourself from difficulties in life. What we can do to assist us bounce back and be resilience to reduce the risk of a stroke, heart disease diabetes and premature aging? Chocolate is a source for increasing the flow of blood to the brain thus improving cognitive functioning. It also leads the brain to release endorphins making us happier and less stressful.

After a stressful personal airplane experience and a dark chocolate fix by a seatmate, Linda Graham, MLT developed in her Mindful Self-Compassion course a “chocolate meditation”.  Each participant is given small bits of dark chocolate and instructs them to:               


1.  Notice the piece of chocolate in your hand.  Notice any thoughts, feelings, and sensations of anticipation arising as you contemplate the chocolate.


2. Place the chocolate in your mouth, simply noticing the flavors, textures, and melt ability of the chocolate.


3.  As you bite into the chocolate, notice the sweetness, and then notice also the bitterness.  Notice the combination, that chocolate gives us both sweetness and bitterness, at the same time, as does life. 


4.  Reflect on knowing one reality through knowing its opposite: dark and light, sound and silence, easy and difficult, ease and pain, bitter and sweet.  Reflect on moments in your life when you know this to be true.

Try this techniques and let me know about your experience. Did you feel better? Could you bounce back from anxiety faster?  Did you discover a favorite dark chocolate? We look forward to hearing from you in the Like, Comment and Share area.





In celebration of National Family Caregiver Month, I wish to honor my first grade-school friend by briefly sharing her story of walking the family caregiver experience. For approximately twelve years, she cared for her mother who suffered a massive stroke leaving her left side paralyzed. After her mother spends months in intensive care, she goes home, and life for the family significantly changes.

The first day of my girl friend’s early retirement, she begins the around the clock care of her mother because mom can’t perform her ADLs (Activities for Daily Living) tasks. My dear friend establishes a daily routine to care for her mother with the relief of her father, sister and son, when possible.

My friend says she learned many lessons during this time. According to her, “Nobody would take care of my mother like me. Living a high-strung life with many things to do, this experience made me humble and appreciative of the small things in life. I mellowed and found contentment in serving my mother. It made me a better person and I began to understand and experience peace and gratitude. This isn’t the way I planned to spend my initial retirement but I am happy I was willing and available to care for my loving mother.”

Thank you DDH for walking the family caregiver path.

Do you know someone who is walking or walked a similar path? Honor them for their service to someone needing help after a life-changing experience by briefly sharing a few words about your friend or family member. Just use their initials, please.

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