My Caregiver Story
So many of us are caregivers, providing care for ill individuals of any age at some point in our lives. I was fortunate to be able to care for my mother who had Alzheimer’s. I felt it was a deep service to facilitate the challenges my mother faced as her mind and body stopped working over the decade as she neared death.
I also had to work diligently to take care of myself while I had my own family and full-time work. I certainly felt the stress.
I was fortunate to engage other caregivers to support me as I could not do it alone. I found a geriatric care manager who was able to advise me so I had an independent perspective on all the care options and the local Area Agency on Aging, found in every community in the United States, provided immeasurable support.
I also made sure to enhance my self-care strategies to increase my physical and emotional resilience.
Easing Caregiver Stress and Illness with Herbs
Emotional and biological stress paves the way for caregiver illness. Caregiving is a marathon, and it includes the ups and downs of diagnoses, doctor’s appointments, decisions, and treatment challenges. Especially since as dementia progresses, so does the patient’s agitation and distress, which only adds to our own.
The herbs that are most important at this time are the adaptogens for resilience. These include hypoglycemic herbs to stabilize blood glucose, immunomodulators to ward off infections and sedatives for deep restorative rest at night.
Adaptogen plants help one adapt to stress by restoring the capacity to cope and respond. Their active extracts and cofactors, support adrenal function, build endurance, and reduce fatigue. By supporting adrenal function, they support immune function and resistance. They also help to utilize oxygen and increase cellular “breathing.”
Common adaptogenic herbs include ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus), also known as Siberian ginseng, and Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng). Ashwagandha in particular is an adaptogen that also aids sleep and can be used at night.
Herbs are our allies during all processes of transformation; they help us heal from illnesses, and they smooth out the bumps in our life cycles. They are always most generous when they reveal that, like each branch, root, leaf, and bud they share, we are also part of nature and have our seat in the cosmos.
Read on to learn recipes for a caregiver resilience smoothie and café de capomo.
Caregiver Resilience Smoothie
This smoothie also makes a quick meal on the run that will sustain you for several hours. Be sure to make enough café de capomo in advance and keep it in the fridge so you can use it daily. A substitute for capomo is a shot of coffee, but remember that too much coffee will exhaust you while a small amount provides a boost.
Ingredients for 1 Serving
- ½ cup hemp milk
- ½ cup Café de Capomo
- ½ teaspoon ashwagandha
- ½ teaspoon maca
- 1 teaspoon bee pollen
- 1 to 2 capsules powdered free amino acids
- 1 tablespoon tahini or almond butter
- 5 drops liquid stevia
Add the ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. You can also add 2 to 3 ice cubes if you like. Drink daily.
Café de Capomo Recipe
Capomo—also known as ramon or the breadnut—is a tasty coffee substitute, widespread on both coasts of Mexico. This nut has been an important traditional food and beverage commonly used by peoples throughout the east and west coasts of Mexico and in the jungles of Guatemala and is currently being revitalized as part of community healing strategies.
Prepare 2 tablespoons of ground capomo per cup of water in a French press or any other way that you would prepare coffee. Optionally add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, or chocolate to add aromatic flavor. You can also obtain capomo in a variety of commercial coffee substitutes. After you make the beverage, save the leftover grinds and add them to some capomo chocolate muffins!
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