Blog Archives

Caregiving and Autoimmune Disease

Both the role of caregiver and susceptibility to autoimmune disease happen predominately to females. In addition caregivers may find the stresses of caregiving trigger an autoimmune disease, and then they may then struggle to look after themselves well as trying to care for others. There are over 100 types of autoimmune disease, and there is no cure for them. There is good news, however. Healing the disease, and sending it into remission, where the signs and symptoms of the disease go away, or are at least are greatly improved, is possible. This is often the goal of medical treatment, where medications are used to suppress inflammatory processes in the body to help prevent damage. Most of these drugs also can also cause a range of side effects or adverse outcomes, and need to be carefully monitored. Other therapeutics can be useful as well, such as acupuncture, naturopathic, and chiropractic treatment. One of the best ways that a person with autoimmune disease can help heal their condition is by following the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). By supporting the body nutritionally, and removing obstacles to healing, this gentle, effective approach can be used in addition to any other treatments. It is also something that a person with autoimmune disease can begin on their own while waiting for a specialist appointment, or even if there is just a suspicion of autoimmune disease. All autoimmune disease is associated with vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as a leaky gut. The Autoimmune Protocol teaches you which foods to eat, what to avoid, and the lifestyle measures that will help you to sleep better, reduce stress, correct deficiencies and help heal your gut. I have personal experience with the healing abilities of the Autoimmune Protocol, and I am currently training as an AIP coach. The training is going great, and I am collecting lots of nuggets to make the AIP transition much easier for my clients. In addition to my private coaching, which is available anytime, I am excited to offer a first ever, cost-effective virtual group class, starting soon to guide you through the autoimmune protocol. I will only be coaching 10 people in this group, so if you are interested in more information and getting on a waitlist, please send me a message, so that you will be one of the first to find out when it is available.

Another Perspective About Elder Care

Yesterday was Father’s Day. I felt very blessed to celebrate with my Dad who is now 89.5, and is still living in his own home with my mother. So many of my friends no longer have the privilege of celebrating with their parents.

I have been thinking a lot about elder care lately. The horrific stories about the conditions in so many of our long term care facilities in Canada have caused me to feel very, very sad. How can we treat our parents and our grandparents like this?

The reality is that we no longer value family care giving in our culture. Extended families, except in some of our immigrant communities, is no longer the norm. An elderly wife will take care of her husband as well as she can, through her own failing health, until she can no longer manage his care at which point they may both need to be institutionalized. How can their kids help when children and parents are often thousands of miles apart, children have full time jobs and kids of their own to take care of?

How can children take care of that elderly person when the parent has advanced dementia, doesn’t know their own family, wanders away and start fires? Yes, at this point family care giving is extremely difficult, if not impossible. The person is institutionalized to keep them “safe”. This is the accepted “elder care” practice in our society. The rare exception is that if the parent or grandparent is wealthy, they may be able to fund a retirement home life and/or bring in enough services to support them in their own home, but this is not the usual case.

Our government is focused on improving elder care in institutions, which is an important issue. We do need fewer beds per room and more highly trained staff. However, more thought and money needs to go into supporting seniors in a setting they can thrive most in – their own home, or the home of a family member.

This can be accomplished by paying family caregivers and supporting aging in place with increased access to professional health care support in the community. Educational and support groups for family caregivers with non-medical backgrounds are also needed to enable them to take care of their loved ones. This will lead to happier, healthier seniors and end up costing the government, (and therefore taxpayers) a lot less than housing people in institutions. It will also mean fewer emergency hospital trips, less mental health interventions and less chronic disease in our seniors. Altogether, this will represent a huge savings economically for Canada.

Earlier intervention – especially at the point when a partner dies and a person is left on their own – can make a huge difference in offsetting chronic disease. Timely lifestyle changes can prevent mild cognitive impairment from developing into dementia. Our society believes that chronic disease is a sign of “aging” and that dementia is inevitable, and yet it doesn’t have to be. For example, prolonged loneliness, a sedentary lifestyle and reliance on fast foods, all risk factors for dementia, can be modified.

Where are the initiatives addressing these issues? According to the LIHN in Ontario, (the provincial home care overseeing agency), supporting aging in place has been a priority for the last five years. I don’t see much offered in the way of disease prevention. I don’t see much offered in the way of cognitive stimulation or physical training. Thirty minutes for help with a bath once a week, always provided by a different PSW, is not enough to support someone living at home. We need a radical overhaul of our elder care system, and that goes far beyond reducing beds in an institution from four to two per room.