The Caregiving Club offers consulting services and educational content with a message to empower caregivers to prepare to care. Caregiving Club mission is to improve the health and wellness of family caregivers nationwide by raising public awareness for caregiving and providing practical information to caregivers via expert advice.
March is National Nutrition Month and while it can be a challenge to follow good nutritional guidelines, it is even harder if you are juggling your own healthy eating needs while caring for your loved one.
A study by the National Alliance for Caregiving shows that 38 percent of caregivers who feel their health have declined while caring for a loved one report weight gain or loss. Skipping meals, eating fast food on the run, turning to non-nutritious snacks to cope with stress can all become part of a caregiver’s nutritional reality.
However, ignoring your own nutritional needs will impact your energy level, your ability to stay focused and alert and your physical and emotional stamina. If your health starts to go downhill, it can be a slippery slope that can lead to you becoming as ill as or worse than the one you are caring for. If you become sick, who will replace you to care for your loved one?
Super Foods for Super Heroes – The Caregivers
Caregiving can be a superhuman role that can zap the physical and mental strength of even Wonder Woman.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, tired and stressed to the max, it is important to keep your powers at their peak. Food is the fuel that can keep our bodies strong and our minds clear. If someone told you there was a pill you could take which will lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer and enhance your mood, would you take it? Well, it may not be a pill but those foods are available at your local grocery.
Bethany Van Trees/Dreamstime
According to WebMD, here is a grocery list of Super Foods that will ensure you remain a Super You. To make it fun, all you need to think about is “eating the rainbow” – choose colorful foods which typically provide the nutrients, fiber and other physical health needs to keep caregivers going strong.
Fiber keeps cholesterol in check and can aid weight loss since you’ll feel fuller. Look for beans, whole grains, fruit and vegetables. I try to “eat the rainbow” daily – one food a day which is red, orange, yellow, green and blue makes it fun and easier to remember to add these super foods to your daily diet.
Blueberries are great anti-oxidants and an anti-inflammatory that can lower your risk of heart disease and cancer as well as other chronic illnesses.
Omega-3 rich fish such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel help your heart,joints, memory and some medical professionals believe it can also reduce depression. A National Alliance for Caregiving study showed that 91 percent of caregivers who say their health has declined suffer from depression. If you’re not a fish fan, you can also find Omega-3 in walnuts and flax seeds.
Soy such as tofu, soy milk or edamame, as well as almonds, oats and barley lower cholesterol. In addition, oatmeal can help regulate blood sugar levels which is important for diabetic diets. (However, if you have a family history of breast cancer, it is not recommended you add soy to your diet).
Tea has been shown in several studies to lower cholesterol. While the antioxidant power is the same in black tea as green tea; the green version has an added element which studies have found helps inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Monkey Business Images/Dreamstime
Calcium found in dairy foods, salmon (again), leafy green veggies, almonds (again), asparagus and figs build strong bones and helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis – women overage 51 should have 1,200 mg daily. If you become lactose intolerant, which can happen with age, try soy or almond milk or take a Vitamin D supplement.
Dark Chocolate – hallelujah! Dark chocolate – at least 60 percent cocoa content – has eight times the antioxidants as strawberries and can help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 10 percent. But don’t overindulge, 2-3 oz. a day will do it.
And, of course, don’t forget your daily multivitamin.
It is hard to be diligent about diet if you are caregiving. But, if you can plan your grocery shopping on Mondays (part of your Me Time Monday plan) it might make it easier to remind yourself – every week – that you are as important as the person you are caring for. Take along this list of Super Foods and stock up – it will help ensure you stay strong so that you can continue being a super hero for your loved one.
And check out the tips, recipes, nutrition information from the Healthy Mondays campaign (which is our partner in the Caregiver Campaign).
March marks National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month and few celebrities are as passionate about raising awareness for this disease than the Emmy Award-winning actress Marg Helgenberger. Marg cared for a father who was diagnosed with MS when she was still in college. Today, there are more than 1.5 million children between the ages of 8-18 who are the primary caregivers for parents and grandparents with chronic illnesses. A Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation study on high school drop-outs reported 1 in 4 left school because of their caregiving responsibilities.
Sherri Snelling spoke to Marg about how she is stepping into the spotlight as a champion for those living with MS, a disease which claimed her father’s life more than 30 years ago when Marg was just starting her acting career.
Marg Helgenberger sounds as strong and in charge as she did playing Catherine Willows, the independent single mom and forensic crime scene analyst on CBS-TV’s top-rated drama series, CSI. However, as we talk about her recent work to bring awareness and support to those suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) and how this disease impacted her dad and her whole family, the vulnerability of youth and past painful memories resonates in the voice of this ageless actress.
In the 1980s, Marg was still a college co-ed at Northwestern University with a future full of promise when she got the call that her father had a devastating chronic illness. Marg thinks back about that day and the five years that her father struggled with MS.
“My dad was a young man when he was diagnosed with MS – he was so full of life and to see this disease overpower him in such a short time was really sad and devastating,” says Marg.
Marg at her college graduation with her mom and dad. She lost her father soon after this photo was taken.
Marg grew up in America’s heartland, a small Nebraska town where fields, farms, family and friends abounded. Her close knit clan included an older sister, her younger brother and her parents. Her mom was a nurse and her dad, Hugh, owned a butcher shop. At first, her father originally attributed the tingling and numbness in his arm to his physically intensive job lugging sides of beef around and constantly chopping and cutting – he thought he just had a pinched nerve. However, as the symptoms progressed and persisted, he was eventually given the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) – and the prognosis could not have been worse as it was an extremely rare and progressive type of MS.
Multiple sclerosis is one of the numerous chronic illnesses for which there is still no cure, although according to the Nancy Davis Foundation recent research is encouraging. Today, more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and 2.5 million people worldwide live with this insidious disease that attacks the central nervous system. Essentially, the myelin, which is the protective covering for the nerve fibers in the central nervous system, become inflamed or damaged and through this inflammation the myelin becomes scarred, thus forming sclerotic patches. These multiple scars or lesions cause interference with the transmission of signals to the brain and spinal cord that then cause the unpredictable and often debilitating symptoms that MS patients experience such as numbness or tingling in the extremities to periods of blindness and even full paralysis.
Twice as many women as men are diagnosed with MS, and it is typically uncovered when patients are 20-50 years old. While researchers feel there may be genetic predictors for MS, there is no clear connection that one generation passes it to another. In fact, research has not shown any significant findings on how and why certain people are afflicted with MS. What they do know is that no two people experience MS in the same way – some patients may experience some or most of the symptoms and may have periods of full recovery. However, because the disease is not curable, it is a progressive and degenerative disease of varying degrees.
Most patients fall into one of four categories: 1) Relapsing/Remitting (the most common with 85 percent of MS patients in this category where you have flare-ups with periods of remission); 2) Primary/Progressive (continuous worsening of the disease with no flare-ups or remissions); 3) Secondary/Progressive (begins as relapsing/remitting but if untreated becomes primary/progressive); and 4) Progressive/Relapsing (the most rare with continuous decline and increasingly intense flare-ups).
Marg’s father had Progressive/Relapsing MS and was diagnosed when he was only 45 years old.
It Takes A Village
Marg remembers this time as very challenging for her family. Her mom had just recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy when Marg was a junior in college. Now just a year later, the family was hit by the news of her dad’s disease. In the 1980s they did not have the therapies and medications for MS that they do today. Marg remembers going with her mom and dad to the hospital where he would get corticosteroid shots that would leave him relieved from some of the pain but bloated, unable to sleep and miserable.
It was during this period that Marg decided she wanted to pursue an acting career and the Big Apple was where she had to be. However, she says she felt guilty over not staying in Nebraska to help her mom care for her dad. So often, family members in Marg’s position give up their dreams. But, Marg’s parents were supportive of their daughter and encouraged the pursuit of her acting passion in New York.
Marg from her “Ryan’s Hope” days
As Marg’s career took off, she landed a key role on the TV soap opera, Ryan’s Hope, and began appearing on popular primetime TV shows like Spencer for Hire and China Beach. Meanwhile her dad’s symptoms continued to worsen.
Originally he was able to get around with a cane but he quickly became wheelchair-bound and could no longer work. Since her mom had to continue her job as a nurse to make ends meet, her father was often home alone. One day his wheelchair got jammed as he tried to get around a hallway corner and he was stuck there for hours. That is when the family hired a professional health care worker to provide home care for Marg’s dad while her mom was at work. With money tight, Marg, her mother and her brother formed a caregiving tag team with her mom and brother performing the physical care and Marg providing a lot of the financial resources. Marg also tried to get home as many weekends as her job would allow.
It was during this period that Marg said she really appreciated her small town, rural America upbringing. The head of the local Jaycees (also known as the United States Junior Chamber), a civic organization for leadership training for those ages 18-41, contacted Marg and said they wanted to hold a fundraiser to buy a wheelchair-equipped van for her dad and family. They were able to raise enough funds that Marg could match the amount they raised and they could purchase the vehicle.
“It really struck me as so sweet and that there is such a power of community when someone is in need,” says Marg.
It was this experience that planted the seed of inspiration in Marg to become a champion to help others. While her acting career continued to soar with roles in TV (Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, The Tommyknockers) and films (Erin Brockovich, Mr. Brooks), she also became a passionate advocate for breast cancer awareness and fundraising, hosting an annual golf tournament in her home state to fund breast cancer treatments and research at the local Omaha hospital.
She told me that “not a day goes by that I don’t think about my dad,” and now her advocacy is bringing more awareness to finding a cure for MS.
“While I am so proud of the progress made in breast cancer treatments and the small role I could play in helping people, multiple sclerosis just doesn’t get the kind of attention as other diseases so I want to shine a spotlight on this disease which is so devastating for families,” says Marg.
She has brought her bright light in support of MS awareness at events for Race to Erase MS and other activities. I know whatever role Marg takes on – actress, advocate, caregiver – this star will continue to shine at whatever she chooses.
Race to Erase MS Gala Event - May 18, 2012 - YouTube
This blog is adapted from Sherri Snelling’s book, A Cast of Caregivers – Celebrity Stories to Help You Prepare to Care. To read more of Sherri’s interview with Marg, click here to buy the book now.
Eating well is not about how well you look in your clothes or getting it together for that 20, 30 or 40-year high school reunion. It’s about daily energy, stamina, mental alertness, positive mood – all things the nation’s 65 million family caregivers need.
For March National Nutrition Month we turn our spotlight on the following articles:
While the Philadelphia Eagles emerged victorious in yesterday’s Super Bowl match-up – the first in the franchise’s history – there’s another first the NFL has experienced in recent years. Sylvia Mackey, fearless wife of ‘60s and ‘70s Super Bowl hero, John Mackey, lobbied the NFL to adopt a long-term care assistance program for retired players who suffered with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and ALS. Called the “88 Plan” in honor of the jersey number of her late husband who died with frontotemporal dementia, Sylvia’s story is one of courage, humor and most of all advocating for the one you love.
Part of our 2018 wishes for all caregivers – we celebrate National Hugs Day on January 21! Scientists tell us that 8 hugs a day help protect our brains and send a powerful emotional and healthful message to caregivers that you care. Read our CEO Sherri Snelling’s blog here on the healing power of hugs:
As we celebrate National Hugs Day on January 21, this simple gesture of compassion or celebration is actually a prescription for brain health and caregiver wellness.
Hugging is an intimate gesture to bring two people together. The person receiving the hug gets a silent message from the hugger, “You matter to me, you are not alone, I’m here.” The emotional impact of this small act can make all the difference in the world to a family caregiver who is experiencing sadness, depression, fear and anxiety.
But scientists have established beyond the emotional uplift, there is a positive physical impact as well. When hugged, we receive a jolt of oxytocin – known as the “love or cuddle” hormone. This hormonal surge helps us bond with the person we are hugging. There is a transfer of positive energy from one human to the other and we feel safer and supported.
Taking the science even further, receiving a hug can boost the immune system, calm our body and regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, bring balance back to our nervous system and make us more patient. In addition to the oxytocin hormone for a feeling of happiness and bonding, hugs also result in a dopamine release in our brains – the “feel good” hormone – which can relieve stress and tension as well as motiviate us and boost our self-esteem.
In research done in a NICU unit of a hospital, newborns were separated into two groups. The first group was cuddled and held in a warm snuggly embrace a few times a day. The other group was well-nourished and cared for but not held and hugged. After just a few weeks, researchers observed the first group thrived with higher weight gains, cooing noises and better sleep. The second group, which did not get their daily hugs, had lower weights, cried more often, were restless during sleep periods and appeared more agitated.
Essentially, hugs are necessary for our survival. Without them, we are living a slow death. Virginia Satir, American psychologist, advises, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
Hugs Protect Our Brains
Paul Zak, a neuroeconomist known as “Dr. Love” for his research into oxytocin and neuro response, prescribes eight hugs a day to receive the adequate amount of oxytocin and other hormonal release that provide a neuroprotective effect for brain health.
In addition to human to human contact, we can receive the same plethora of health benefits from hugging a pet. It is one of the reasons why pet therapy is so powerful and impactful in our senior population even helping to calm agitated or wandering dementia patients.
When I gave the keynote speech at the National Caregiver Expo in Jacksonville, Florida a couple of years ago, I spoke about the healing power of hugs. Spontaneously, the audience turned to each other and gave their fellow audience member a hug. Someone came up on stage to embrace me and I can’t explain the surge of positive emotion and feeling so good that I was there!
The best part of hugging is that it is a non-pharmacological, non-invasive, universal expression of love and care. And it’s the gift that gives back because we cannot hug someone without getting the same reaction we provide. Hugs are where both parties benefit in the emotional and physical healthy feelings.
How to Give a Good Hug
Hug someone for at least 20 seconds – don’t be wimpy or weak about it – make it a good bear hug to show how much you care.
Provide the “Heart to Heart Hug”: Raise your left arm up to wrap it over the upper right shoulder of your hugging partner, leaving your right arm low to wrap around his or her midsection just below his or her left arm.
Include your pets in your daily prescription of 8 Hugs a Day – all hugs count!
If you are not sure if someone is a hugger, a nice pat on the back or rub on the hand or arm will let you know if you should go for it. If not, the touch is still a nice gesture of support and not invading the recipient’s space.
It’s been more than 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. As we honor Dr. King’s birthday today with the “MLK Day of Service” family caregivers can perform two acts of service for their loved ones:
Ensure your loved one’s end-of-life wishes are in order (including Living Wills, Health Care Directives, Durable Power of Attorney, DNR, etc.).
Help your loved one fulfill something on their bucket list.
Following are two great ways for caregivers and their loved ones to achieve both of these dreams.
The Five Wishes
When it comes to end-of-life wishes – especially the legally binding paperwork so essential to ensure families are not pulled apart when they need to come together – it is hard to start the conversation. There is a tool available that is not only affordable, valuable and legal but helpful in beginning the dialogue about end-of-life. It is called The Five Wishes.
In 1997, Jim Towey, who had served as Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s friend, volunteer AIDS worker and legal counselor, created a nonprofit organization, Aging with Dignity. At the core of the organization was a document Towey created that was in his words a “living will with a heart and a soul.”
Essentially, the document asks five questions that cover medical, personal, emotional and spiritual needs to help you communicate how you want to be treated if you are too ill to speak for yourself:
Which person you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them.
The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want.
How comfortable you want to be.
How you want people to treat you.
What you want your loved ones to know.
Watch our Me Time Monday video on How to Have the C-A-R-E Conversation:
Caregiving Club Me Time Monday Tip - How to Have the CARE Conversation - YouTube
To date, the $5 document (either downloadable to your computer or mailed to you) has been filled out by 18 million people worldwide and has been translated into 26 languages and Braille. It is used in all 50 states and meets the legal requirements for an Advance Directive in 42 states (in the remaining eight states you can attach The Five Wishes to the forms that state requires).
Because The Five Wishes has interesting origins with the principles of Mother Teresa infusing its purpose, this can be the conversation starter with your family. While the emphasis is on aging baby boomers to ensure these wishes are in place, having your wishes written, legally binding and communicated to family is smart for everyone.
It is the legacy of the Terri Schiavo case that shows us the agony and antagonism that can happen to tear families apart when someone’s end-of-life care is unknown. Schiavo was only 27 when she was put on a ventilator and feeding tube after cardiac arrest left her brain dead. She lay in a vegetative state for 14 more years while her husband battled her parents over whether or not to keep her alive on machines. If she had a Living Will or a Five Wishes document, there never would have been a battle.
The reality is if you do not have the conversation, family members can be confused and conflicted which can lead to emotional exchanges you do not want. Dying is not a choice but how the end will be is. We owe it to our families to share those wishes. Your legal wishes may be written down but now is the time to start talking.
When it comes to dreams, we all have our bucket list.
However, if you are battling a terminal illness, that bucket list seems even more precious but perhaps more elusive. Pain, immobility and money issues can dash these dreams and many give up their joy so they can focus their efforts on surviving. Finding those moments of peace, reconciliation, validation and pleasure are part of life – no matter whether we are at the beginning, middle or end of our days.
One organization understands how important this is and grants real-life bucket list wishes to help caregivers help their loved ones achieve these end-of-life dreams. Appropriately, it is called The Dream Foundation.
In 1993, Thomas Rollerson wanted to give his dying partner one last dream: to go to the movies and see Mrs. Doubtfire starring his favorite actor, Robin Williams. Seemingly a simple request, they set out for the movie theater with water bottles to keep his loved one hydrated, a critical tool in abating the pain of his illness. The theater asked the gentlemen to leave because you could not bring your own water into the theater. Upset but not undaunted, Rollerson was dedicated to helping his loved one see a last movie. He called organizations dedicated to childhood dreams for terminal patients such as Make-A-Wish and the Starlight Foundation. All these organizations limited their help to children only and Rollerson was amazed to find no group granted adult wishes.
Ultimately, Rollerson contacted the movie studio. Twentieth Century Fox, which was behind Mrs. Doubtfire. He was astounded yet grateful when they provided a copy of the film (since the movie was still in theaters it was not yet in video stores). This experience galvanized Rollerson to help other caregivers fulfill the dreams of the adult loved one who has last wishes. Thus, The Dream Foundation was founded in 1994.
To date, The Dream Foundation has fulfilled thousands of wishes for adults battling terminal illnesses. Rollerson is proud of the foundation’s success – one of the few and longest-operating nonprofit organizations to grant wishes nationwide for terminally ill adults and to not limit the wishes to those with certain diseases (for instance there are other groups who grant wishes for adult cancer patients).
“I had a network of contacts in the Hollywood and film community and I started reaching out to see how others could help and it grew from there,” says Rollerson.
As opposed to the over-the-top wishes we watch Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman enjoy in the movie, The Bucket List (such as an African safari, dining in Paris and riding motorcycles along the Great Wall of China), Rollerson says his favorite wishes granted are the simple ones.
Watch the Me Time Monday video on End-of-Life Wishes:
Caregiving Club Me Time Monday - End of Life Wishes - YouTube
The Dream Foundation hosted a 104-year-old’s birthday party and invited the dream recipient’s brother whom he had not seen in 40 years. Another woman had never stayed in a first- class hotel so the foundation gave her a weekend stay at a five-star resort. A 40-year-old man with lung cancer was granted a last wish of a fly fishing trip with his young sons and yet another dream recipient was given a state-of-the-art hearing aid “so he could hear what his grandchildren were saying to him.”
“It’s the simple joys in life we take for granted that become so important as we face ‘the end’,” says Rollerson. “I learn from each dream we’ve given and it has become a gift to me to give these dreams.”
At Caregiving Club, we are avid pet lovers and believe in the power of pet therapy. Most of us here are dog owners which is why we are thrilled that 2018 is the “Year of the Dog” in the Chinese calendar.
All year long we’ll offer various stories, interviews and articles on how dogs improve our health as caregivers (lower blood pressure and get us moving) as well as calm and comfort those with Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s disease and other chronic illnesses. We also offer insights into the world of both real pets and their robotic counterparts.
For more on our furry friends, read our CEO Sherri Snelling’s articles below:
It has long been suspected weight gain is a slippery slope to breast cancer risk. Now studies are not only supporting this claim but also showing weight loss – even just 10 percent of total body weight – may also help prevent breast cancer. If you are one of the 65 million Americans caring for a loved one, studies also show weight management becomes a big challenge which can put caregivers at even greater risk for developing breast cancer.
Most Americans gain only 1-2 pounds a year since college age, which doesn’t seem like anything to get too upset about until you do the math. After 30 years, when you are in your 50s and at menopausal age and possibly caregiving for an older parent or ill spouse, this accumulated weight gain can be 30-60 pounds. Not only will this increase your Body Mass Index (BMI) but it also puts you at risk for breast cancer and a host of other health issues including diabetes and heart disease. Researchers have long believed weight gain, accumulation of excess body fat, can fuel estrogen levels which have been linked to breast cancer tumors in postmenopausal women.
A National Cancer Institute (NCI) study of 72,000 women found a steady weight gain over years can double the risk of breast cancer versus those women who maintained a steady weight all those years. In fact, women in the study who started with higher BMI measurements, considered at an early age to be overweight or even obese, but maintained their higher weight over the years, did not show the increased risk in developing breast cancer.
In a separate study published in 2012 by researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, researchers found for the first time weight loss directly lowers hormones linked to breast cancer. By slowly losing weight through diet and exercise, you can lower the amount of these hormones circulating through the body, which can result in a decreased risk of developing breast cancer.
Maintaining your college weight is tough for anyone – 57 percent of the NCI study participants failed to keep their college figures. Metabolism slows and childbirth weight gains may never completely come off (just ask Jessica Simpson how tough it was), work life may cause increased stress that triggers snacking and late hours or travel are challenges to a consistent fitness routine. Researchers are calling this busy life syndrome.
For caregivers, the added stress and time dedicated to caring for an older loved one takes over – fast food instead of good nutrition, lack of gym time and restless nights with fewer hours of sleep – are all caregiver health risks. In fact, a Commonwealth Study found caregivers are twice as likely to develop chronic illness earlier in life – often attributed to increased and prolonged stress.
While some pounds may have crept on, Dr. Anne McTiernan who led the Fred Hutchinson study believes just 10 percent weight loss can have major impact and reduced breast cancer risk. Other researchers support the findings including one of the world’s leading epidemiologists, Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University. He told ABC News, “Weight loss by postmenopausal women is one of the best ways to reduce risk of breast cancer.” Willett also mentions a study showing women who lost a moderate amount of weight had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer.
Calculate Your BMI
Both men and women throughout their lives should have a BMI measurement of 18.5 – 24.9.
Here is how to calculate yours:
Take your weight
Divide it by your height in inches
Divide this new number by your height in inches again (yes, a second time)
Multiply the new number x 703
Prescription for Healthy Weight – 5 Things Caregivers Can Do to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Get your shuteye.
In a National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) study, 87 percent of caregivers felt they did not get enough sleep and cited insomnia as a side effect of caregiving. Most experts advise at least 7-8 hours of restorative, uninterrupted sleep. One Australian research study found less than five hours of sleep a night can be equal to .05 blood alcohol level and another study found just 5.5 hours or less of sleep a night can translate into a 12-pound weight gain over one year.
Cut back on cookies and turn to healthy snacks.
Because our metabolism slows as we age, most experts agree you should decrease the amount of calories you eat by 10 percent every decade. You can also increase your intake of super foods to give you energy and which are loaded with anti-oxidant cancer-fighting ingredients. WebMD encourages you to swap out crackers for almonds, replace red meat with salmon, eat more blueberries than blueberry muffins and 2 oz. of chocolate a day is okay – as long as its 70 percent cocoa – it will decrease your cholesterol levels by 10 percent!
According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, regular exercise reduces your breast cancer risk by 10 to 20 percent. An added benefit is physical activity boosts the body’s immune system which can help slow or kill the growth of cancer cells. Take the stairs at work, walk around the block in the morning or at night – just 30 minutes a day – which can be broken down into three 10-minute cardio, heart-pumping sessions – will do.
A NAC study found 10 percent of caregivers use alcohol to cope with their stress but drinking more than one glass of alcohol per day increases your breast cancer risk by seven percent. If you have 2-3 glasses of alcohol per day, your risk increases by 20 percent according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Stress is the No. 1 complaint for caregivers. But stress releases a hormone called cortisol which can lead to belly fat – the worst kind of fat to have. Finding ways to de-stress whether it is meditation, breathing exercises, yoga or finding outlets to let off steam such as support groups or calling a friend who will let you vent will keep you healthier in body, mind and spirit so you can continue to care for your loved one and for yourself.