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Caring for caregivers: Resources for
navigating an important job
(BPT) When David Bowen¡¯s father fell taking
out the trash in 2016, it set in motion a series
of health challenges the family is still battling
Bowen, 62, hired a part-time professional care-
giver to assist his father along with his mother,
who was battling Alzheimer¡¯s, but he found him-
self serving as a caregiver much of the time, too.
¡°I¡¯d go by [their home] after work three days
a week; we called it the ¡®40-mile triangle¡¯ - 40
miles to work, 40 miles to their house, then 40
miles back home,¡± Bowen said.
¡°I¡¯d stop and get dinner on the way, sit and visit,
re-dress dad¡¯s wounds and humor mom, then
head for home.¡±
Caregivers are the unsung heroes of the health
care system. The responsibility can mean in-
creased stress and anxiety, which can affect fam-
ily dynamics, nutrition habits, physical fitness and
overall well-being.
Many people take unpaid leave from their jobs,
reduce work hours, change careers or quit alto-
gether to care for an aging loved one.
The 2018 Northwestern Mutual C.A.R.E. Study
revealed that two of three caregivers reduce their
living expenses to pay for the medical and practi-
cal needs of their loved ones, yet nearly half of
future caregivers said they have made no finan-
cial plans to prepare.
While this can be challenging, caregivers take
immense pride in this important role, and most
wouldn¡¯t trade the opportunity.
In fact, a recent Merrill Lynch-Age Wave study
found that 91 percent of caregivers feel grateful
to care for someone and 77 percent would do it
Regardless of what leads someone to assume the
role of caregiver, and whether they do so willing-
ly, out of a sense of obligation or both, one thing
is certain: Caregivers need and deserve support
as they navigate a demanding, emotional and
critical responsibility.
The good news is there are resources and ser-
vices that can help make life as a caregiver a bit
* The National Family Caregiver Support
Program offers medical, emotional, financial and
legal advice and training to adult family members
who provide in-home and community care for
people aged 60 or older and to people older than
55 who care for children under 18.
* AARP¡¯s Caregiver Resource Center offers
guides for first-time caregivers, families and
those who care for a loved one at home. These
include financial and legal considerations and ad-
vice on how to maintain caregiver-life balance.
* While the Administration for Community
Living doesn¡¯t work directly with individuals, it
can be a good place for a caregiver to start on
the circuitous path to financial support.
The organization provides funds to help older
adults and people with disabilities live where they
fresh most of the
Drying them is
simply a matter
of hanging the
plants upside
down in the
pantry until they
are crispy, then
filling small ma-
son jars with our
While it¡¯s true
that most any-
thing picked
straight from the
garden is bound
to be good, and
good for you,
certain plants top
the charts when
it comes to nutri-
2018 June/July
Pg 6 - The Sunshine Express
Health & Nurturing
Some plants are more calorie dense, such as po-
tatoes, while others are especially chocked full of
health promoting compounds. With a little plan-
ning you can have a veritable preventative medi-
cine cabinet of garden produce.
Healthy Garden Groups
Three of the main healthy compounds in fruits
and vegetables are the carotenoids, isothiocya-
nates and the flavonoids, which together help with
detoxification while fighting against oxidation and
High intake of these compounds is associated with
less cancer, heart disease and other degenerative
changes associated with aging. They also helps us
look and feel better at any age.
The carotenoids are found in red, orange, yellow
and green fruits and vegetables. They contain
more than 600 anti-oxidants including alpha-
carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and
You can find them in carrots, squash, apricots,
sweet potatoes, red and yellow peppers, toma-
toes, spinach, kale, collard greens, basil, paprika,
cayenne, and chili pepper.
The isothiocyanates are a group of 1,000-plus
natural molecules typically found in cruciferous
vegetables. Foods rich in these include wasabi,
horseradish, mustard, radish, Brussels sprouts,
watercress, nasturtiums, and capers.
Similar compounds, such as indole-3-carbinol and
glusinolates are found in broccoli, chicory, Swiss
chard, escarole, endive and parsley.
The flavonoids are probably the most commonly
recognized antioxidants actually referring to more
than 6,000 different molecules.
Many of them are pigments, so brightly colored
foods are likely to contain them, especially the
black, blue, purple and red fruits and vegetables
such as blueberries, cranberries, raspberries,
blackberries, cherries, grapes, peaches, eggplant,
red cabbage, and red onions.
Garden of Health
Food is our first, best medicine, and getting a rain-
bow of brightly colored fruits and vegetables is the
place to start. You don¡¯t need to be overly scien-
tific to plan a variety of plants for a garden that
round out the
many different
health com-
If you live in
town consider
turning a small
part of your
yard into a gar-
den. You also
can use pots or
buckets to grow
a significant
amount of food.
Learn to create
compost as it
makes fertilizing
and soil man-
agement easier,
plus it can re-
cycle tons of
kitchen scraps.
If you can¡¯t
manage a gar-
den of your
own, then buy directly from someone else who
gardens, and delight in walking through the soil
and plants to see where your food came from.
Look for local producers such as Sweet Peas out
in Palisade, or farmer¡¯s markets.
Here in our little town of Collbran there is a
marvelous community garden growing this year ¨C
consider a coop with neighbors.
A garden is truly a medicine chest for good health
and there is nothing better than harvesting meals
from a home garden.
Enjoy fresh, seasonal, organic produce raised by
your own hands. As we hit late summer and fall
approaches, harvest is most abundant now and
the rewards of our efforts are overflowing.
It won¡¯t be long before winter and time to start
dreaming of which seeds to order for next spring.
(Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the
American Board of Family Practice and the
American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative
Medicine. He specializes in bioidentical hormone
replacement for men and women, thyroid and
adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia and other com-
plex medical conditions. He is founder and medi-
cal director of the Integrative Medicine Center of
Western Colorado ( and Bellezza
Laser Aesthetics ( Call
970.245.6911 for an appointment or more
In Harmony
by Scott Rollins, M.D.
Garden For Health
We usually have a garden - a really big
garden. It¡¯s a lot of work, no doubt, but the
rewards bring us back year after year.
Somehow the magic of plants sprouting forth
from the earth and growing into a bounty of
food helps us forget all the sweat that goes
into the whole process.
I¡¯m the grunt laborer that discs, tills, hoes,
and gets the water system going each year.
Starting seedlings indoors is a family project
early in the spring.
Our boys started out first crawling, then tod-
dling, and finally running and playing in the
garden. They were always good little helpers
come planting and harvest time and thank-
fully they are now big enough to help with the
We compost all of our kitchen scraps and
combine them with manure to build a massive
compost pile. It takes a year for the whole
thing to fully break down, turning into beauti-
ful rich black compost fertilizer.
Although I have analyzed the soil over the
years with soil test kits, there isn¡¯t much need
anymore as organic compost fertilizing makes
it easy to have nutrient rich and balanced soil.
My wife is the expert at canning, pressure
canning, freezing, drying and root cellaring
To give you an idea of just how much garden
I¡¯m talking about, one year we put about 300
pounds of potatoes and 20 varieties of garlic
into the cellar, along with bushels of beets,
carrots and onions. Last year we stored about
100 winter squash of various types under the
In a good year we¡¯ll can 50 quarts of my fa-
vorite tomato-basil sauce and dozens of jars
of everyone¡¯s favorite bread-n-butter pickles.
Herbs such as basil, dill, thyme, oregano,
parsley and sage are easy to grow and enjoy
Care Resources Available