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Things to Know About Support Groups

Episode 114

Rayna Neises, ACC, host, reflects on the topic of learning from others from last week’s interview (113) with Jean Lee. This week, Rayna continues with that theme and looks at reading and how it can help caregivers.

  • [0:43] Books allow those who have been before us to communicate their experiences, and we can glean from that on our own time.
  • [1:00] Think about how you can carve out a little bit of time to become more of a reader.
  • [1:20] A couple of book recommendations from caregivers:
    • Say It Now: 33 Ways to Say I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life, by Sherry Richert Belul
    • Emotions: An Owner’s Manual: Harness the Power of Your Greatest Personal Resource for Life and Work by Joie Sheldon
  • [6:00] Embrace reading not only to learn but to escape.
  • [7:00] Benefits to reading every day:
    • Mental stimulation for your brain
    • Stress reduction
    • Improve sleep
    • Enhancement of knowledge
    • Expand your vocabulary
    • Build stronger analytical skills
    • Improve focus and concentration
    • Free source of entertainment by utilizing the library
  • [14:19] Reading out loud to your loved ones can help them too.
  • [15:56] If you are not currently a reader, find something you would enjoy reading and go from there.


*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

[00:00:00] Rayna Neises: Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” That’s a quote by Mason Cooley. And this is Rayna Neises, your host, on A Season of Caring Podcast where there’s hope for living loving and caring with no regrets.

[00:00:14] Thank you for joining me today, last week, I had an opportunity to talk with Jean Lee, who is an author of Alzheimer’s Daughter, as well as the co-founder of AlzAuthors.com. And I have been blessed to have my book, No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season accepted as a contribution to Alz Authors. Alz Author’s mission is to provide resources to light the way for those in the Alzheimer’s and dementia journey.

[00:00:43] And I think that’s such a beautiful statement, because it is so true of what books do for us. They help light the way, they allow those who have been before us to communicate their experience to us, in a way that lets us do that on a time [00:01:00] that works for us. So many times in our caregiving season, I know it is busy and thinking of taking time to read might feel unrealistic to you. But I’d really like to encourage you to stop and think about how you could carve out a little bit of his time to go ahead and become a little more of a reader.

[00:01:20] I ask in a group, a community group called caring for adult family members on the website, Revel. What books they’ve read and how they impacted their lives. And I really appreciated Pat Sullivan shared about four books that really impacted her. But I wanted to take a minute to pass on a couple of them to you. One of them is Say It Now 33 creative Ways to Say, I Love You to the Most Important People in Your Life.

[00:01:45] This is by Sherry Richert Belul. And it’s simple, it’s creative projects that enliven and engage care partners and those who need care. And that was Pat’s comment about what she loved about this book. [00:02:00] I love that she brought this out because sometimes we need help. We need help to be creative and to think about expressing our love especially if the person we’re caring for is not one to receive it very well. Or if they don’t have the communication skills to express it back, being creative in the ways that you express that love can make a big difference.

[00:02:22] The other book that she mentioned that I thought would be really helpful, I wanted to share with you was Emotions and Owner’s Manual Harness the Power of your Greatest Personal Resource for Life and Work. And this is by Joie Sheldon. Pat Sullivan mentioned that it was really important to her because in our culture, it teaches us to repress or to rise above our emotions. And then how can we recognize our feelings and express or handle them effectively if we’re always repressing them or rising above them. So, especially when caregiving intensifies emotions of all types, Pat says, Joie really does [00:03:00] provide a personal manual for knowing and dealing with emotions in a simple and compelling way. I have that book now on my list to listen to, I am an Audible Book girl, and I have many books on my Audible list, sort of hobby a little bit to get to that one on emotions. But I think as family caregivers, we really do have to spend some time thinking about emotions and processing through the emotions we’re feeling.

[00:03:30] Again, we’re so busy doing the things that we have tendency to forget we have emotions and the person that we’re caring for has emotions. So I think this book might be really great to help us to tune into those emotions a little bit better and maybe even offer support to the one that we’re caring for in a way that is not been there in the past.

[00:03:52] So thank you Pat, for answering that question, I ask on a couple of different social media sites and didn’t get a lot of answers about books that [00:04:00] you read. So I’m not sure if that means that you’re readers or if you’ve just put reading aside and not had an opportunity to do that recently.

[00:04:11] I mentioned I’m an Audible listener, definitely during the season where I was driving that 220 miles, one way to care for my dad every week, I found Audibles to be invaluable. I listened to books, pretty much a book a weekend, on the drive there and back. And it really gave me an opportunity to just build some new skillsets. To escape at times into fiction. But I found Audibles to be really helpful. I don’t spend as much time listening as I once did. So I am trying to find ways to carve out time. As I walk this Roxy around the farm, I’m often listening to a book on Audibles. I also spend some time on elliptical listening to books. And so that frequency has gone down as far as how quickly I’m getting through them. But I do [00:05:00] still really enjoy listening to books and gaining knowledge in that way.

[00:05:04] Now I would never have called myself a reader. I didn’t love reading in school. In fact, I struggled had tutoring and extra help with getting the reading skills down that I needed, but as I’ve become an adult. I love to read Christian fiction. And it’s funny because one of my biggest memories of my mom was that she was a reader. She sat with books and read all the time and I have taken on that trait. So I spend a lot of time reading as well, but I find myself doing it as my night routine. After I’d done the whole brushing my teeth and washing my face and taking those vitamins. I snuggle into bed. I use an e-reader with a blue screen blocker.

[00:05:50] And I read before I go to bed at night, as I was talking to a friend about this, I said, “You know, one of the reasons why I choose to read is that [00:06:00] allows me to escape into someone else’s world, where I don’t have to solve any problems”. And as a caregiver. I know you can use a break. You could use a time to escape into a world where you are not responsible for anything except reading the next page. So think about that. If you’re not enjoying some fiction, find your niche. I actually have found. Christian fiction books, which are thrillers. And so I really love that mystery kind of book and that’s something that I’ve really gotten into in recent years. So there are all different kinds of genres, all different kinds of writers out there. So I really just challenge you to not only. Embrace reading to learn, which I know you’re a learner because you’re listening to this podcast, but also embrace it to escape.

[00:06:54] And you can find that as your loved one is napping and you’re too tired to do anything. [00:07:00] Picking up that book and escaping for just five minutes really can make an impact on you. So, as I wanted to look at reading and what reading could do for us as caregivers, I did a little research and I found this article that I will link on our show notes page, and it’s on a website called Lifehacks and she lists 10 Benefits of Reading and Why you should Read Every Day.

[00:07:25] And I just wanted to share a few of those with you. Some are really obvious, but some had some great detail in there as well. One was mental stimulation for your brain. If you read every day, then you’re definitely stimulating your mentality. Numerous studies that have been conducted to understand the benefits of reading and per a study one of the prime benefits of reading is slowing down mental disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. It happens since reading stimulates the brain and it keeps it active. It allows it to retain its power and capacity. [00:08:00] Every part of our body needs exercise. And reading is one way to exercise your brain. We need different ways, not just one, but definitely reading can be one of those.

[00:08:13] Rayna Neises (2): One that I found across the board and multiple articles was stress reduction. And definitely being able to read seems to help lower our stress level for sure. And so finding different ways to lower stress is always important. Medical News Today in an article called Five Ways. Reading Can Improve Your Health and Wellbeing. It says that reading can reduce stress. Stress is believed to contribute to around 60% of all human illness and disease. It can raise the risks of stroke, heart disease by 50, 40% respectively. So of course, Taking time to implement reading can help to lower that [00:09:00] stress lower that risk. There was a study from coauthors David Lewis, a neuropsychologist at Mind Lab International in Sussex and the colleagues found that participants who engaged in at least six minutes of reading, whether a newspaper or a book experienced a slower heart rate and reduced muscle tension.

[00:09:21] So these findings really help us to see that reading can have a very physical impact on our stress level. It also helps to improve our sleep. That’s definitely one of the things that I found. I mentioned that I escape into a different world and that helps me to stop thinking about my own things, but we’re also finding that because smartphones are so prevalent and people are using them to fall asleep that we find that it actually does not benefit sleep to be on a smartphone in social media or doing some of those other things. Rather, they found that it[00:10:00] can actually be linked to shorter sleep duration and poor quality. So it’s a primarily because the light that’s emitted from that device and the way it interacts with the production of melatonin.

[00:10:13] Rayna Neises: So we definitely want to be paying close attention to that. So when we’re reading they would recommend that you definitely are reading from a book or like I said making sure that your device has that blue light filter so that it will promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.

[00:10:32] And of course, multiple articles shared the enhancement of knowledge. Obviously we know that we can gain a lot of knowledge from books, but many don’t stop to think about that once you’re out of school necessarily, but there are numerous ways to learn more about life from self-help books to reading fiction. Even when you feel de-motivated you [00:11:00] can read. Inspiring biography it’ll help to lift your mood. It’s really has great benefits to helping you gain more information, especially as you’re in this caregiving journey. I found that books written by other caregivers really can be encouraging, inspiring as well as instilling new information. It can kind of help you to anticipate some things that might be coming or help maybe avoid some landmines that you hadn’t thought about.

[00:11:30] Obviously, reading can also expand on vocabulary. Again, this just helps to give us a new way of processing information and keeping our brain young as we’re gaining new information and new knowledge. In a caregiving season, the vocabulary of your loved one’s illness of many of the self care things, as well as types of illnesses or side effects or different things. Those new words are going to become a [00:12:00] new language is really important. So exposing yourself to those things in a way that can be helpful to you to really grasp that new information and hold onto it will help you throughout this journey as well.

[00:12:11] I’m back at Lifehack with some additional things that were listed that were not listed in other locations that I found interesting was just that reading can help you build stronger analytical skills. What are the most amazing benefits of reading every day is that can improve your analytical skills. Reading mysteries novels, help you to develop skills that will assist you in problem-solving. While reading a novel, the disclosure is pretty slow. So your mind has to focus it predicts, a guesses, upon disclosure you can connect the dots. It’s spend to make your brain smarter and. Analytical skills through some of those different types of books. That probably is what I enjoy about the fiction that I’ve been reading. Also helps us to improve our focus and concentration. And, oh my gosh, we need that now. Don’t we? Our smartphones have given us [00:13:00] instant hits of information. Our endorphins get stimulated quickly with those things. And we can be living in this place of wanting lots of instant gratification. Unfortunately, real life. We don’t really have that going on. And especially as caregivers, we’re often at home with our loved one.

[00:13:19] And so we might find that we need to work on our focus and our concentration and delayed gratification a little bit. And so reading can help us to do that. Reading brings back the lost power of focus and concentration. Develop the healthy habit of reading every day it keeps you occupied while you’re reading. If you read for 20 to 30 minutes, it can be great for your brain. It can help you focus better. Filing that information in a place that you can access it later can be really helpful.

[00:13:47] Lifehack also wanted to remind us that reading can be a free source of entertainment, and we can do that by going to the library. A lot of people aren’t aware that your libraries now have eBooks to be [00:14:00] lent. And so you can actually check out an ebook with your local library so if you don’t have time to leave the house and go pick up that book, you might be able to find it on an E reading opportunity through a local library. There are also low cost subscriptions available that have free books that you can access.

[00:14:19] I think reading aloud can be a lot of fun as our loved ones become older or possibly suffer from having vision impairments. They might find that their love of reading disappears. So you might be able to step into that and share a book, either listening to a book on tape together, and then talking about it, or actually doing the reading for them.

[00:14:41] Rayna Neises (2): I am a former teacher and it was interesting to me, in my mind I thought once kids can learn to read for themselves, they would be done being excited about listening to stories, but it’s so not true. One of their favorite times during the day was after lunch and recess time was to come in and [00:15:00] just be in a quiet, soft, lit room and have me read to them. Oftentimes the 15 minutes that I sat on the timer was not long enough. And I think that that can be true for all of our loved ones, sharing a book and a story together. It gives you a whole different experience than watching television together. Gives you an opportunity to have something, to talk about something in common, maybe during lunch or dinner time, really having that chance to connect over something.

[00:15:27] Rayna Neises: So take a look at some of those things. Just remember overall from health benefits to getting smarter, there are lots of reasons to be reading regularly and you can expect to enhance your knowledge about so many different things, as well as develop a habit that is healthy for you, lowers your stress and helps to maintain your brain. So make sure that you check out some additional resources that I list on the show notes page today, having to do with reading.

[00:15:56] I hope that you found this podcast helpful. [00:16:00] It’s a little different than our regular ones. But again, as I was thinking of self-care, I would say my reading was one of the things that was at the top of the list that I did very consistently, and I felt was extremely helpful to me during my caregiving season. So I want to challenge you, if you’re not a reader, now find something you would enjoy reading. It might be a magazine, a newspaper or a short story of some type start somewhere and go from there. And you might be surprised how much you enjoy reading.

[00:16:34] Thanks again for joining me this week. Just a reminder, A Seasonal Caring Podcast was created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have financial, legal or medical questions, be sure to consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises, ACC

An ICF Certified Coach, Author of No Regrets:  Hope for Your Caregiving Season, Podcaster, & Speaker, offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected.

Rayna Neises

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