Stress is a normal part of life and can be caused by a wide range of factors such as work, relationships, financial problems, aging, caregiving, and health issues. While some level of stress can be helpful in motivating people to take action and find solutions, chronic stress can have a negative impact on a person’s mental and physical health.
People may seek counselling for stress because it provides a safe and supportive environment to explore and understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours related to stress. A therapist can help individuals identify the root cause of their stress, develop coping strategies to manage it, and learn relaxation techniques to reduce symptoms of stress.
Therapy can also provide an opportunity for people to process their experiences, address past traumas or negative life events that may be contributing to their stress levels, and develop a better understanding of their emotions and thoughts.
In addition, counselling can also help individuals with stress-related conditions such as anxiety, depression, and burnout. By working with a therapist, people can gain a deeper understanding of their patterns of behavior and thought, and develop a more holistic approach to managing stress.
Overall, therapy for stress can provide people with the tools and support they need to manage and reduce stress levels, and improve their overall mental and physical well-being.
Check out my Psychology Today profile for up-to-date information on my counselling services.
YouTube video by Marilyn Christian: Sail on by Brent Hoag https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyRAhRZ4ud0. Brent Hoag wrote a poem for his wife, Sally, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. The words were put to music by Songfinch and sung by Effee.
On page 92 of, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss: A Helpful Guide for Caregivers, which Brent Hoag helped me with, I explain about ambiguous loss, a term coined in the 1970s by Dr. Pauline Boss. It is the unfortunate situation whereby a loved one is still alive, but “lost” at the same time. They are physically present but psychologically absent. This happens when someone is affected by a disease such as Alzheimer’s or one of the many other neurocognitive disorders. Damage to and dying parts of the brain ultimately affects one’s personality. Some caregivers find writing can help them cope with their grief. Brent Hoag wrote a poem in 2021 called “Sail On” which is dedicated to his wife Sally (see below). He then had it made into a song, then naturally a video on YouTube followed (see above).
The book, “Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss: A Helpful Guide for Caregivers” that I helped author Angela G. Gentile in part to write, has been well-received with a lot of positive feedback. My original poem “Sail On,” which I dedicated to my wife Sally who is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, appears on page 93 which follows Chapter 9 that I wrote addressing humour and coping in relation to Alzheimer’s/Dementia.
For your ease of reference purposes, I am also including the original poem that I wrote that went viral across Canada, the USA, and beyond. I am so grateful to have heard back from countless people who thank me and let me know how much the poem (and now song) resonate with them. It is also great to learn that it has been disseminated/shared within the Alzheimer Society British Columbia and amongst personnel primarily at the renowned UBC Brain Health Centre. The song “Sail On” was also played at a national conference on-line discussion at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
DEDICATED TO SALLY
So far from the shore
I feel like I am no more
So far from land
I am now a lost husband
I am losing you
You are going away
Like a lost horizon on a cloudy day
From the deck I will release a dove
As a sign for you the one I love
Even though you are still here
I find that you are no longer near
Because you went adrift at sea
I will never again really be me
I love you Sally wherever you are
My heart is broken because you have forever gone afar
Even though I have found the shore
The “we” and “us” are never more
Sail on my love
Sail on my love
I pray that you find my dove
That I sent to you my love
Until you are finally free
From the bonds of this cruel sea
I will see you one day beyond the horizon
And my heavy tears will be no more
As we join together once again
So far from the shore
Love, Brent 💙
A special thank you goes out to Brent for sharing his beautiful poem. My heart goes out to him.
Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW
Note: Brent says, “Feel free to share and further disseminate this.”
Who can you trust to provide you with services and products that tried, tested, and true? Who do you call when you need professional services, products, or advice? If you are not sure, I have the answer for you!
I am proud to announce I am now a member of the Quality Senior Servicesnetwork of trusted professionals in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Who are we?
Our brochure and website lists an impressive variety of professionals, including:
Disability Tax Credit Advisor
Licensed Insolvency Trustee (Accountant)
Clinical Social Worker (me!)
Speech and Swallowing Therapy (SLP)
Private Home Care
Home Medical Supplies
Professional Movers, Transition Specialists, and Estate Sales
Many of our members provide mobile or home visits. Accessibility is key. We know.
Our membership is always evolving and we are open to having new members who provide services to older adults and their families. All service providers are vetted and trusted, whether they are health sector, quality of life, or general professionals. We all come with a wealth of experience.
You will see us out at the “Pros Know Expos” and we are always willing to chat with you about your needs.
Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW
Clinical Social Worker for Quality Senior Services
For more information on QSS or email us at email@example.com.
Here in Canada, January is Alzheimer’s Awareness month. To commemorate this event, I am thrilled to announce the release of my newest book, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss: A Helpful Guide for Caregivers (2022). This book has been in the making for a few years now and I am pleased with its completion. It is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and ebook (Kindle) format.
Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss is a fully revised and expanded version of my book, Caring for a Husband with Dementia. Caring for a Husband with Dementia, written in 2015, has been my number one seller and this new book is sure to enlighten everyone. It is written in gender-neutral language and will be relevant for all care partners and those who provide assistance and help to those struggling with cognitive decline and neurocognitive disorders.
My idea for this book came to me not long after I published, Caring for a Husband with Dementia. I had people asking me, “Where is the book for us husbands?” and “Where is my book? I am a child of a parent with dementia.” This got me thinking. So I started by having men who were caregivers look over the book. I had one man who was unable to complete his mission. So I had to continue to search for the right person(s) to help me.
Dubbed the “first aid kit” and “quintessential survival guide” for caregivers.
Eventually, I developed a friendship (through an online caregiver support group) with a man named Brent Hoag, whose wife Sally had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years prior. He was very keen on helping me and agreed to review the book from a male caregiver’s perspective. He is a prolific writer in support groups and online, so I knew he would be a great choice. His contributions to this book project were so valuable that I included his name on the front cover!
Brent’s contributions to Alzheimer’s, Dementia, & Memory Loss include a chapter on humour and his words of wisdom, experience, and advice are sprinkled throughout the book. You can sense the love for his wife in his words and the challenges he endured and how he handled them with loving care.
In this expanded volume I include special chapters on delirium, drinking, driving, and doggy dementia. In the seven years since I wrote my first book on dementia, caregivers have come to me with some very challenging situations that are unfortunately more common than we realize. The dementia-affected brain can pose so many difficult situations for caregivers, so this book is sure to shed some light on how to cope and manage.
Getting a Diagnosis
Asking for Help
Practical and Emotional Support
Caregiver Burnout and Self Care
Humour as a Coping Strategy
Long-Term Care Placement
Loss, Grief, and Bereavement
Communication (includes Therapeutic Reasoning®)
Coping with Difficult Behaviour (the biggest chapter with tons of tips!)
Abuse and Neglect
Legal and Financial Preparedness
Delirium and the Older Adult
Problem Drinking and Dementia
These 210 pages are full of support, tips, and advice that everyone can learn from whether you are a informal care provider or a formal caregiver. Problems with one’s memory and recalling recent events is often one of the first signs of dementia. I have included the term “memory loss” in the title in case a failing memory is the main problem one is having.
If you would like to purchase a copy, I always have some available on hand, or you can purchase the book online from Amazon. Contact me for any other inquiries, or click on these links to go to Amazon (USA – change country if needed):
Angela G. Gentile is a clinical social worker who has worked with thousands of clients and their families. She has a specialization in aging and has been working with older adults for more than 25 years. Angela is married, has two adult children, and lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
I helped coach a caregiver and his friend through what was a very stressful and horrible day. It ended well, but the experience leaves me angry and I thought I should share it, in the hopes that it will help someone else.
This is a true story of a father and son. Names and other identifying information has been changed to protect identity and confidentiality. I will call the father Mr. Smith, the son Donald, and the friend Krista.
Mr. Smith, 62 years old, was diagnosed with dementia about five years ago. He and his family learned about this diagnosis while he was a patient at the hospital. His son had told the hospital staff that he and his partner at the time couldn’t look after his dad at home any longer and there was no other family members who could look after him. The hospital told the son that if he didn’t take his dad home, he would be sent to a homeless shelter. This didn’t sit right with Donald, so he took his father home.
Fast forward five years later. Donald calls me to say his father has been needing increased care and supervision. He needs to be fed, showered, dressed, and on three occasions he has left the home without notice and was unable to safely return due to his declining cognition. He was unsafe to be left alone for long periods of time. More recently, Mr. Smith left the home and the police were called. Mr. Smith was found on a bus. He didn’t know where he was or where he was going. This was the last straw for Donald. He knew it was time to have his father placed into long-term care.
I advised Donald that he could call Home Care and get the ball rolling for either home care services (which they tried in the past but had failed) or an assessment for long term care, such as personal care home admission. Donald said that it was getting too difficult for him to manage and that he needed this dealt with, urgently. I then advised that he should take his dad to the hospital and tell the medical professionals that his dad is not safe and he can no longer safely and adequately care for his father at home. Donald is the only care provider and told me that any other family members who are aware of the situation agree with the hospitalization and potential admission to personal care home.
Donald and his friend Krista took Mr. Smith to the emergency department that had a shorter waiting time than the other hospitals. They arrived at 9:00 am with an anticipated three-hour wait. I had coached Donald on what to say when he and his dad arrived at triage. That seemed to go well.
What didn’t go well was the three-hour wait turned out to be much longer. Mr. Smith was starting to get agitated. He didn’t understand why he was there. Donald didn’t know what to do so he asked me if I thought he should leave his dad there. I advised against it, however, Donald was getting very stressed and I suggested he talk to the nurse to let them know how he was feeling and to find out how long the wait was going to be.
Donald asked the nurse what would happen if they left. There were four people waiting ahead of Mr. Smith. The nurse at the time said, “Just let us know if you leave.”
Donald and Krista decided to wait another hour. When the hour was up, Donald called me again. He said, “We want to leave dad here, but are worried about what will happen if he decides to leave the hospital.” I said that now that he is in the hospital, he should be safe. The nurse had told you to let them know you are leaving, so if you must, just advise them and then go.
When he told the nurse (a different nurse as there had been a change), they told Donald that he can’t just leave his dad there. Donald said, “Well, you have two security guards at the door, so why can’t you just watch him so that he doesn’t leave. We don’t want him to get hurt.” They then told Donald that if he left his dad there, it would be considered “elder abuse.” Krista immediately responded with, “Don’t go using that term. You don’t know what we have been through. We are here because we want Mr. Smith to be safe. We don’t want a burnt out son and a possible mental breakdown on our hands.” Donald then said, “I have no legal authority over my dad. I have no Power of Attorney, I don’t run his life for him. He is not well, he has dementia, and he needs more care than what I can provide for him. I can’t take him home.”
I told Donald that he in no way would be guilty of elder abuse and that that was an absolutely inappropriate and unprofessional accusation by the person who said that. I told him the hospital have a very vested interest (and responsibility) in keeping his dad safe. I said, “Could you imagine the front page news tomorrow if, heaven forbid, your dad was injured or worse yet, killed, after he left the hospital under their watch?” It would not be your fault, it would be theirs. You have done all you can do and you are done. You are to be commended for the care and concern of your dad until now. It will take a team of trained staff to look after him. You can’t do it anymore.”
Soon after this, they miraculously found Mr. Smith a bed. Donald walked with his dad and the nurse to the emergency room bed. The nurse asked why Donald was following, and he said he wanted to make sure his dad was settled before he left. The nurse told Donald that there were going to be a lot of people seeing his dad, such as social workers, and other professionals and that this may take a while. Donald was satisfied, told them to call with any questions, and with that, went home.
The fact that Donald was accused of “elder abuse” is absolutely unacceptable. This absurd, unfounded accusation towards a burnt-out, stressed, grief-stricken son is horrific. I feel so badly for Donald. He had to basically “surrender” his dad to the healthcare system. One that has failed Mr. Smith and his son miserably. I sometimes wonder if the emergency departments do this on purpose in situations involving dementia – delaying the exam so long that the family decides to take their agitated, confused, frail loved one home rather than wait. Things have to change.
Donald went above and beyond over the last few years to care for his father at home, on his own. Home Care was tried, but it didn’t work for a variety of reasons. The healthcare system fails our family member caregivers time and time again. I see it and hear about it quite often.
For example, I know a dear older woman who is the wife of a man with dementia. She is also stressed and wanting to get her husband on the list for personal care home (PCH). She went through all the proper channels and she was told that he doesn’t qualify for PCH as he is “still able to do so much for himself.” She is burnt out, grieving, and at a loss for what to do next.
Our healthcare system here in Winnipeg, Manitoba needs to change. It needs to recognize the stress put upon the caregiver of a person with dementia. Our healthcare system needs to stop blaming caregivers, and telling them that they are guilty of elder abuse, when in fact they are doing the most difficult thing any loving family member can do (surrender their loved one to the long-term care program) to keep their loved one safe and cared for, while at the same time saving their own sanity. A caregiver already feels shame and guilt. Why add more pressure?
If you need any coaching, advocacy, or counselling regarding the difficulties associated with dementia care, please contact me for a free 15-minute consultation.
I have been working on my books and I have two updates to tell you about.
My newest book, “Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond” (2021) is now available in hardcover! This is the first book that I have been able to make into a hardcover version. Amazon had approached me to see if I would be interested in trying out this new feature they were offering, so I took them up on it. Let me know if you decided to get a copy of it in hardcover. I would love to know what you think.
I have updated the paperback version of “Caring for a Husband with Dementia” for 2021. I have taken out some links that no longer worked. Many of the links were from the “Alzheimer’s Reading Room” which has been removed off the internet. I have also added a reference to a book by Marie Marley and Daniel C. Potts which has a lot of the information that was in the links which have been removed. Their book is called, “Finding Joy in Alzheimer’s: New Hope for Caregivers” (2015).
Celebrate National Women’s Health Week with us! On May 11, 2021, at 8:00 pm CST, Angela G. Gentile will be hosting a Zoom book launch for her newest book, “Flourish or Fade.” Register on Eventbrite to attend. There are a number of awesome books, services, and products that have been donated by some amazing women to help make this book event special. Please see the list below and enter to win! (see Contest Details below).
1. Angela G. Gentile: “Flourish or Fade: A guide to total well-being for women at midlife and beyond” (paperback, $21.00 CAD value). Now available!
2. Dr. Andrea Wilkinson: BrainShape Accountability Calls ($300.00 CAD value)
“Free Phase II Accountability Calls with Dr. Andrea of BrainShape” ($300 CAD value)
Accountability Appointments take place via TWO 60-minute video calls.
CALL 1: Discuss your concerns and struggles + build a plan to help you address them (e.g., sleeping difficulties, chronically stressed, low energy, lacking mental focus, etc.) Whatever the problem, let’s talk about it & build a plan you can implement right away.
CALL 2: Accountability Appointment to check-in on the goals you set out in Call 1.
The winner of the BrainShape Services prize will book their INITIAL CALL by visiting www.BrainShape.ca/call and book a time in Dr. Andrea’s calendar. This is a free offering of the supportive elements provided inside the Brain Vitality Blueprint, and helps people take the first step towards improving their health and well-being.
3. Billie Best:“How I Made a Huge Mess of My Life” (paperback, $12.99 USD value)
5. Kay Ross: “The Playground of Possibilities” (card deck, $20.00 USD value)
This card deck is a self-help, personal-development tool with 52 questions for you to ask yourself. Every question starts with “What would be possible for me if I…?”, to prompt you to let go of your old, limiting thoughts, beliefs and stories about yourself and the world, choose more useful ones, take inspired action, and improvise more resourceful, joyful ways of being. Kay was born in Scotland, grew up in Australia, and has lived in Hong Kong for 27 years. She’s passionate about personal development and healing, and is also an improv performer. The deck costs $20 USD plus postage from Hong Kong (the full amount depends on the number of decks ordered and the destination).
6. Camille Goscicki, of Vitalaging4women, “Seize the Moment! A Guide to Living in the Present” (ebook, $4.99 USD value)
Do you live with regrets from the past, and fear the unknowns of the future?
It’s time to let go of fears and regrets and live for today. Seize the Moment! is your mini-guide to grab the present moment and live for today. It includes three bonus worksheets that will help you become more mindful. (Everyday mindfulness tips, practicing mindfulness, and becoming present for peace of mind.) Note: eReader not included.
7. Donna Thomson: The Unexpected Journey of Caring (hardcover book, $39.00 CAD value).
“The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation From Loved One to Caregiver” by Donna Thomson and Zachary White, PhD with a foreword by Judy Woodruff (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) Available at all online booksellers Hardcover – $39.00 CAD)
With a foreword by Judy Woodruff, The Unexpected Journey of Caring is a practical guide to finding personal meaning in the 21st century care experience.
Personal transformation is usually an experience we actively seek out—not one that hunts us down. Becoming a caregiver is one transformation that comes at us, requiring us to rethink everything we once knew. Everything changes—responsibilities, beliefs, hopes, expectations, and relationships. Caregiving is not just a role reserved for “saints”—eventually, everyone is drafted into the caregiver role. It’s not a role people medically train for; it’s a new type of relationship initiated by a loved one’s need for care. And it’s a role that cannot be quarantined to home because it infuses all aspects of our lives.
Caregivers today find themselves in need of a crash course in new and unfamiliar skills. They must not only care for a loved one, but also access hidden community resources, collaborate with medical professionals, craft new narratives consistent with the changing nature of their care role, coordinate care with family, seek information and peer support using a variety of digital platforms, and negotiate social support—all while attempting to manage conflicts between work, life, and relationship roles. The moments that mark us in the transition from loved one to caregiver matter because if we don’t make sense of how we are being transformed, we risk undervaluing our care experiences, denying our evolving beliefs, becoming trapped by other’s misunderstandings, and feeling underappreciated, burned out, and overwhelmed.
Informed by original caregiver research and proven advocacy strategies, this book speaks to caregiving as it unfolds, in all of its confusion, chaos, and messiness. Readers won’t find well-intentioned clichés or care stereotypes in this book. There are no promises to help caregivers return to a life they knew before caregiving. No, this book greets caregivers where they are in their journey—new or chronic—not where others expect (or want) them to be.
“Nobody grows up planning to be a caregiver, but many of us will become one and sometimes when we least expect it. Thomson and White bring powerful insights to help understand what it means to be a caregiver and how to truly support those of us who will travel this unexpected journey.” – Samir K. Sinha, director of geriatrics, Sinai Health System and University Health Network, Toronto; health policy research director, National Institute on Ageing
Contest open to adults aged 18+, worldwide. No purchase necessary.
Identify which prize(s) you would like to win. Submit the item name/number, your name and email address to Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Your name and email address will not be given out to anyone else, unless it is required in order for you to obtain your prize(s)).
One entry per person, per item.
Entries accepted from Wednesday April 21, 2021 at 5:00 pm CST until Saturday May 15, 2021 at 12:00 noon CST.
Winners will be drawn on or before Sunday May 16, 2021 at 12:00 noon CST.
Qualified winners will be notified by email and your mailing address will be required so we can ship you your prize.
Every attempt will be made to get your prize to you, however, in the unfortunate event there are restrictions in your country, you will be ineligible. In that case, another draw will be made to seek a suitable winner.
Anyone who has had or has cancer or any other chronic illness or disease knows there is a certain amount of time when they feel they are truly on the road to recovery, recovered, or have discovered their “new normal.” I am one of those people.
I was diagnosed with anal cancer in April 2017. I finished treatment in August 2017. One and a half years later, I can say I am starting to feel “recovered” for the most part – “still recovering” in other areas –– and have discovered my new normal.
My new normal includes ongoing and long-term physical rehabilitation as a result of pelvic radiation damage. I am not complaining (radiation saved my life!), I am just sharing that although some people look great after a big ordeal like cancer, there could be ongoing battles that you may know nothing about. Invisible wounds and scars are very common for people who have experienced cancer.
Recently I attended an art show, and I received a few compliments on my appearance (the picture above was taken at the end of a Hawaiian vacation last month). I know I am feeling much better physically, and my self-image is shaping up. My hair is almost all grown back and highlighted again; I am back to yoga once weekly, and I have started back on my elliptical and doing stretches and weights. I even started wearing my FitBit again. My modest goal of 6,000 steps daily is still a ways away, but at least I am working towards it.
I have also been enjoying my new “intermittent fasting” lifestyle and my relationship with food. I am feeling in control of my life and my body. It’s taken almost two years, but I finally feel like each day I feel better and better.
I am enjoying moderating and managing support groups on Facebook. The “Anal_Cancer Support” group on Facebook is doing amazingly well and has recently achieved the 10-year milestone and the 300th member. Having cancer has expanded my social network by leaps and bounds. A profound and harrowing experience can bring more people into your life – if you want it. You just have to open up and ask for it.
The “Dementia Caregiver Solutions Support Group” is also growing and the admin team recently expanded to include two new moderators who are actual caregivers. They join three professionals to moderate and keep things on track. I find comfort in knowing I have given caregivers this safe forum to share, vent, and get advice for such a difficult time in their lives.
I am also pursuing other volunteer opportunities to help me reach more people who may benefit from my experience, passion, and support. I seem to have an infinite amount of “help” to give, and I am looking for ways to do so –– in a way that will keep me balanced and not over-taxed.
I continue to write for a company called Trualta. I am enjoying my writing projects and look forward to writing for more companies and individuals as the opportunities present themselves.
I am also helping people get married, sort out their problems, write books, develop websites and more. I am starting to consider finishing up my book on aging well (this will be my fifth book!). Where all this will take me? Who knows. The long road to recovery takes us places that we never dreamed of. I am looking forward to continuing on this journey.