Ep. 98 The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation for Caregivers and Health Professionals

Learn how to get started with your own practice of mindfulness and enjoy improved health in body, mind and spirit.

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In this episode my guest Gia George, who is a yoga and meditation teacher, will tell us why and how to start a simple meditation practice. You’ll learn what you need to know to get started with mindfulness and maintain a routine that will help with stress and life’s challenges. Visit Gia’s website at divinelygia.com.

Patreonbecome2xThis podcast is supported through generous contributions on my page at Patreon.com/eolu. If you would like to chip in $1 or $2 per month you’ll receive access to our monthly “Hospice Happy Hour Hangouts” and I will promote your EOL-related book, business, organization, or website on the podcast. THANK YOU to all of my Patreon supporters! You make this podcast possible!

In this interview you will learn:

  • The physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of a mindfulness meditation practice
  • How meditation can specifically benefit those in the caregiving and healthcare professions
  • Why meditation is actually a form of “listening prayer”
  • How to begin if you’ve never meditated before
    • When to meditate
    • Frequency
    • How to sit
    • Dealing with thoughts
    • Avoiding self-judgment
    •  Maintaining the practice
  • How “guided meditation” can be a good way to get started
  • Being mindful during every day activities to improve focus and relieve stress

ZenQuestGuidedCheck out Gia’s Zen Quest Guided Meditation CD if you’d like some help getting your practice started:

Zen Quest: Guided Meditations, Healing Journeys is a compilation of 7 guided meditations, each 10-minutes in length. These vision quests take you on relaxing journeys through your mind, heart, and soul, as you explore the healing metaphors and symbols of the Universe. Each meditation is rich with hidden gems of wisdom, woven through a beautiful quest. Go to this link to listen to samples and purchase the CD if you are interested: Guided Meditation CD

Watch Gia’s FREE weekly meditation videos on YouTube: Meditation Monday

Tune in every Monday to a new episode! Until the next time remember:

Face Your Fears.                   BE Ready.                   Love Your Life.

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Ep. 71 The Death-Positive Movement: Trends and Goals for 2017

It’s a brand new year! Let’s look ahead and see what’s possible in 2017!

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In today’s episode of the podcast we’ll look ahead at the coming year, study the trends in the death-positive movement and discover where it might be possible to create new volunteer and career opportunities for ourselves and our communities in 2017.

First I’ll share my own goals for the coming year, which include revising, editing and publishing the two books I wrote in 2016. I also plan to release two new training courses this spring and have lined up a fascinating group of speakers for the End-of-Life University Interview Series. To stay up-to-date on all the latest interviews and offering from EOLU, be sure to to sign up for the mailing list here.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the contributors to this podcast on supportonpatreon-e1412764908776Patreon.com/eolu. Your support helps pay for the expenses of creating this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series. If you’d like to become a patron just go to Patreon.com/eolu and sign up to contribute just $1 or $2 per month.

Here are some of the Trends I’ll be watching in 2017:

  1. Increasing number of Palliative Care Programs in hospitals across the country. Though many of the current programs are either understaffed or underfunded, these problems are likely to be corrected in the near future. To meet current standards, each palliative care team must have a chaplain and a social worker so if you have training in either of those fields you might find employment opportunities in a palliative care program in your community.
  2. Need for creative solutions for hospice care. Because for-profit hospices are taking over many of the smaller non-profit hospices there is a risk that uninsured patients or those with needs for expensive care might be turned away. There is a need for social-model hospices (see Episode 23) and possibly for community-based non-profit, non-Medicare-certified organizations that can help bridge gaps in services for hospice patients. Here are some recommended training programs for becoming an end-of-life doula or midwife:
    1. Sebastopol CA: Jerrigrace Lyons http://finalpassages.org
    2. Austin Texas: Donna Belk (Online training program): http://beyondhospice.com
    3. Austin Texas: Deanna Cochran http://www.qualityoflifecare.com
    4. Ann Arbor Michigan: Merrilyn Rush and Patty Brennan http://center4cby.com This training starts right away – Feb. 3-5, 2017
    5. Calgary Canada: Sarah Kerr http://soulpassages.ca/about/
    6. New York and online: Suzanne B. O’Brien RN: http://www.doulagivers.com
  3. Need for more caregivers. As baby boomers age and approach the end-of-life the caregiver shortage will become a much greater issue. Opportunities will exist to create caregiver training and support services in communities and even to start businesses that employ caregivers.
  4. Community outreach can help support the changes that are slowly occurring in the healthcare system. One of the best ways to encourage change in healthcare is to empower consumers to demand changes from their physicians. This will require outreach and education in the community. Here are some ideas for outreach and links to learn more from previous podcasts:
    1. Plan a community end-of-life event.
    2. Start a Death Cafe.
    3. Plan an EOL Film Festival.
    4. Start an EOL Book Club. Get a list of potential books here.
  5. Create an “Inreach” for members of the EOL community by starting a discussion group, networking event or collaboration opportunity for those who are already working in this arena.
  6. Bring volunteer movements to your community. Consider starting a group of volunteer caregivers who can provide respite care for family caregivers or start your own chapter of Threshold Choir, Twilight Brigade, or No One Dies Alone.
  7. Provide education for your community either as a voluntary act of service or as a paid instructor. Here are some possible ideas:
    1. Assist people to correctly complete their advance directives.
    2. Teach a community class on death and dying.
    3. Train caregivers.
    4. Teach about green burial, promote a natural burial ground in your community, help people access green burial supplies
    5. Educate the community about their rights to a home funeral

I hope these ideas inspire your own personal goals for 2017! Stay connected with me and keep tuning in to the podcast. Let me know your own inspirations and plans for the New Year by adding your comments.

Until next week ….

Face Your Fears.              BE Ready.             Love Your Life.

Ep. 68 Holiday Gift Guide for Those Coping With Death and Bereavement

 

This week Dr. Wyatt shares ideas for holiday gifts that are appropriate for caregivers, patients, and the bereaved. Those of us who work with dying patients and bereaved families believe it is important to deal with death openly and frankly, rather than trying to hide or deny the reality that we are all going to die some day. By choosing a gift that acknowledges death you can help foster a healthier approach to the end-of-life in our society and provide an opening for your friend to seek you out for support and conversation.

Here are some “death-aware” gifts that you might consider for various individuals grappling with death and loss this holiday season:

  1. Books: As a reader, books are always one of my favorite gifts to give and receive and there are many that can fit the criteria of “death-aware”. Here are just a few of those books:
    1. The Legacy Letters by Carew Papritz consists of a series of letters from a dying father to his unborn children. This small book is profound and impactful but not too confronting about death and dying. Since it has a masculine perspective on life and death this would be a great gift for a man who may not resonate with some of the other books listed here.
    2. A Call from Spooner Street by Carol Ascher is a good read for an adult child dealing with the death of an elderly parent.
    3. Connecting the Dots and Support for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers by Judith London are wonderful books for caregivers of dementia patients.
    4. The Last Adventure of Life by Rev. Maria Hoaglund is full of helpful tips for families dealing with the dying of a loved one at home.
    5. Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley is another wonderful book for families with a loved one nearing death that deals with unique deathbed experiences and communications.
    6. Safe Passage by Molly Fumia is an inspirational little book of daily devotions for one who is grieving.
    7. Turning the Corner on Grief Street by Rev. Terri Daniel is appropriate for someone in the later stages of grief who is ready for a spiritually transformative look at grief.
    8. Home Funeral Ceremonies by Donna Belk and Kateyanne Unullisi is a beautiful book of rituals and ceremonies for a family comfortable with having their loved one die and receive after-death care at home.
    9. What Really Matters by Karen Wyatt MD is a book of stories about hospice patients, their families and the process of discovering what really matters in death as well as life.
    10. Find additional recommended books in Episode 56.
  1. Music Music is a matter of personal preference but here are some lovely choices for those near the end-of-life:
    1. Walking Each Other Home by The Threshold Choir consists of songs appropriate for the bedside of a dying patient.
    2. Rosa Mystica and The Geography of the Soul by Therese Schroeder-Sheker contain beautiful harp and vocal music for the dying produced by her Chalice of Repose Project.
    3. Graceful Passages by Gary Malkin is a combination CD and Gift book with music and the spoken word for anyone exploring the issues of life and death.
  1. My Gift of Grace Game This game is a fun and inspirational tool for creating conversations about death and dying. It would be a great gift for a family facing future loss (which actually describes all of our families) who need some help talking about the end-of-life. The questions contained in the game provide a gentle introduction to a difficult subject.
  1. Memory Quilt or Pillow Favorite clothing items like T-shirts, ties, skirts or dresses can be used to make beautiful memorial quilts or pillows. This might be a thoughtful gift for someone close to you who is grieving a loved one if you have access to those clothing items.
  1. Ceremonial Supplies You might package together one of the suggested books or CD’s along with some of these supplies to help families create rituals for the dying process and for grief:
    1. Incense or sage
    2. Essential oils such as lavender, frankincense, lemon, sandalwood, tea tree. Read about aromatherapy for the dying here.
    3. Candles
    4. Handmade paper for writing notes
    5. Journal
  1. Gifts for Caregivers If you know someone caring for a loved one during this holiday season be sure to offer a little extra TLC or support. Stress levels can increase greatly for caregivers at this time of year with an influx of visitors and extra tasks to perform. Here are some thoughtful ideas:
    1. Gift certificate for a massage or “spa day”
    2. Homemade “coupon” book with redeemable certificates for help with errands, housecleaning, laundry, cooking, or respite care
    3. Gift cards for local restaurants that provide home delivery
    4. Punch card for a local yoga studio or gym along with offers of respite care so the caregiver can get away at least once a week
    5. Provide an outing for the patient including transportation and companionship to give the caregiver a break
    6. “Fidget Blanket” for a dementia patient to keep hands occupied
    7. DVD for the patient of a favorite movie or sporting event (especially old musicals, comedies and TV shows from the 1960’s)
    8. CD for the patient of music from the 1940’s and 50’s
    9. Invitation for a “lunch date” for the caregiver along with respite care for the patient
    10. Create a “Memory Book” for the patient of old photos, newspaper clippings and special documents from the past.

These suggestions are just a beginning to help you start thinking creatively about how to give a meaningful and fitting gift to a loved one facing death, dying or grief this holiday season. Spend some time searching for the perfect present that honors death and supports the one experiencing this difficult path.

But remember, there is no substitute for your presence, which is far more important than any other gift you can give. Be willing to spend time with your friend or loved one, even when you don’t know what to say and can do nothing more than sit in silence. Offering your calm and loving attention in the midst of a busy holiday season can be a gift for you, as well.

Wishing you many blessings this holiday season! Go to Patreon.com/eolu if you’d like to support this podcast and End-of-Life University. Tune in each Monday for a new episode and remember:

Face Your Fears.                BE Ready.                Love Your Life.

 

 

Ep. 66: November End of Month Update on the End of Life

In this episode Dr. Wyatt thanks her latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu, Suzanne O’Brien RN, founder of Doulagivers. If you would like to help support this podcast and End-of-Life University Interview Series for the small contribution of $1 or $2 per month, go to Patreon.com/eolu and sign up to become a supporter!

In other personal news, Dr. Wyatt just reached the 50,000 word goal on her novel-writing challenge for the month of November! Stay tuned for more information on Starry Night,  a novel about living and dying!

Go to DeathExpo.com if you are interested in getting the downloadable filed from Death Expo 2016. Tune in to Episode 65 to hear the highlights and take-aways from this fantastic educational event!

Next Dr. Wyatt shares the latest news and information about end-of-life issues that caught her eye during the month of November:

  • Survey of seniors in the U.S. shows that 27% have done absolutely no planning or preparing for the end of life. Those least likely to have prepared correlate with the following characteristics: age between 65-74, black or Hispanic, low-income, low education level, and diagnosis of Alzheimers.
  • Canadian study shows that for seniors who have completed Advance Directives, Values and Choices do not always align, showing a lack of guidance for choosing end-of-plans and confusion about basing choices on underlying values
  • a paper cited in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management calls for improved consistency in honoring the EOL choices of patients in nursing homes and hospitals
  • Go Wish Card Game found helpful for patients completing their advance directives; helps them identify their values and priorities
  • Home-based Palliative Care shown to lower healthcare expenses in last year and 3 months of life, decrease hospital admissions and increase hospice utilizations. 87% of patients who receive palliative care at home are able to die at home, compared to only 24% of all Medicare patients who die at home
  • Review  of 43 palliative care clinical studies shows that palliative care improves quality of life but does not extend life
  • UC Santa Cruz has started a program to pair pre-med students with hospice patients
  • Study shows doctors are reluctant to discontinue routine medications that are no longer indicated for their patients at the end of life due to lack of awareness, low priority, and fear of causing patient to feel abandoned
  • Colorado became 6th state in the U.S. to approved medically aided dying during the November election
  • AARP and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging have a launched a campaign to identify seniors suffering with loneliness and isolation in order to connect them with community resources; 43% of seniors report loneliness which leads to medical consequences
  • new movie Collateral Beauty deals with grief and death and will be released on Dec. 16th
  • Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died on November 7th at the age of 82

Tune in every Monday for a new episode! Subscribe and leave reviews on iTunes by going here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/end-of-life-university/id1033282990 

Until next week remember:

Face Your Fears.                     BE Ready.                       Love Your Life.

Ep. 62 October End-of-Month Update – Halloween Edition

 

Dr. Wyatt thanks her newest Patreon.com supporter Tracy Zagata. You can become a supporter as well by going to Patreon.com/eolu and signing up!

Sign up for Death Expo which will take place Nov. 10-13, and hear 12 speakers on EOL issues. Go to DeathExpo.com to register free to tune in to these excellent presentations.

This episode is taking place on Halloween and the Day of the Dead. Dr. Wyatt includes the following updates:

  • CMS report 52% increase in Medicare spending on hospice between 2007 and 2015 due to 38% increase in the number of patients receiving hospice care, primarily patients with dementia
  • the DEA is mandating 34% decrease in opioid production due to dramatic increase in opioid-related deaths since 1999 – rate has quadrupled during that time frame
  • JAMA Oncology reports that the cost of secobarbital, the drug most frequently prescribed in assisted dying cases, has increased by $25oo; there is no explanation except that drug companies can get away with it
  • California is the first state to require that palliative care teams have a chaplain for those patients who want to receive spiritual care
  • Debra Beaulieu writes in HealthLeaders Media that all clinicians should know the following about palliative care: 1) that it’s not just for dying patients 2) that it is often underutilized and 3) all clinicians should have basic palliative care skills
  • Study in J. Palliative Med showed that home-based palliative care (as opposed to hospital-based care) meets more of patients’ needs in the last 3 months of life and costs $12,000 less per patient
  • Controversial “doll therapy” for dementia patients
  • Study shows that 11% of female caregivers over the age of 50 have to leave their employment to fulfill caregiver duties, costing $300,000 in lost wages, benefits, and Social Security over time
  • Census data reveals that currently 25% of seniors are considered “Elder Orphans,” meaning that they have no children or close family to care for them; these numbers will only grow as Baby Boomers age, reinforcing the need for more caregivers
  • Medicare Care Choice Pilot Program is currently underway; patients can receive home-hospice care while continuing curative treatments if they have a diagnosis of cancer, COPD, CHF, or HIV; there are 140 participating hospices in the program
  • Survey shows that 1/2 of MS patients would consider medically assisted dying in the case of unbearable pain, being a financial burden to others, or if unable to enjoy what makes life worth living
  • Study reveals the 69% of MOLST or POLST forms have incomplete information and 14% have conflicting choices, making them nearly impossible for care providers to follow
  • the nation’s first conference on VSED was held in October at the Seattle U. School of Law and was featured in an article in the NY Times. Phyllis Shacter was a speaker – you can hear her EOLU interview in episode 25
  • Conversation Sabbath will take place November 11-20 with >30 congregations from various faiths participating; the focus will be on EOL conversations and theconversationproject.org will provide tools and resources for the event
  • Andrew Henderson, 28 year old performance artist who is terminally ill has created an art performance called Taking it to the Grave and will tattoo the secrets of his audience on his body before he dies
  • Miss Norma, the 90 year old woman who chose to go on a cross-country RV tour with her son and daughter-in-law rather than undergo treatment for cancer, has died

Have a safe and meaningful Day of the Dead! Tune in every Monday for a new episode and support EOLU at Patreon.com/eolu. Until next week remember to:

Face Your Fears.                 BE Ready.                Love Your Life.

 

Ep. 60 How to Nourish Yourself While Caring for Someone Else with Nina Manolson

Today Dr. Wyatt shares an interview from the EOLU archives with health and nutrition coach Nina Manolson. She discusses how to eat a healthy diet even when you are super-busy with life and work as a caregiver.

Reminder to sign up for Death Expo which takes place November 10-13, 2016. There will be 12 speakers in 4 days and it’s all free! Go to DeathExpo.com to register so you will receive emails about this event.

In this interview you will learn:

  • how a “green smoothie” can energize your day and change your life
  • healthy, easy snacks for busy caregivers
  • a simple daily strategy for healthy eating
  • how to stock your pantry and refrigerator for quick and healthy meals

Enjoy these tips for healthy eating and take good care of yourself! Until next week remember to:

Face Your Fears.          BE Ready.           Love Your Life.

Ep. 59 How to Avoid ‘Compassion Fatigue’ for Caregivers and End-of-Life Workers

This week Dr. Karen Wyatt addresses ‘compassion fatigue,’ which is an occupational hazard for those who care for others who are suffering emotionally or physically.

Death Expo is coming up November 10-13, 2016 and you can register by going to DeathExpo.com. There will be 12 speakers on various aspects of death, dying and bereavement, so be sure to sign up for this FREE virtual conference!

You can help support EOLU by going to Patreon.com/eolu and making a donation of $1 or $2 per month to help defray the expenses of creating the interview series and this podcast. Thank you to all of the current “Patrons” who are offering their support – it is much appreciated!

Today’s discussion centers around Compassion Fatigue and you will learn:

  • What is compassion fatigue
  • Who is susceptible to compassion fatigue
  • The signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue
  • Tips to prevent it:
    • Regular exercise
    • Adequate sleep
    • Healthy diet
    • Journaling
    • Deep breathing
    • Mindfulness meditation
    • Witnessing perspective (Galaxy view)
    • Prayer and contemplation
    • Self-love
  • See the links below to get companion resources for this talk

Smoothie recipes: smoothie-recipes

Journaling Starter Kit: journalingstarterkit

Remember to:

Face Your Fears.           BE Ready.             Love Your Life.