October 1, 2023

As a caregiver, you may find your role to be quite stressful. However, there are ways to help relieve stress. I came across an article that I found particularly helpful in this regard. It offers various ways to alleviate stress. Please note that the website I am sharing with you is free, but it contains ads. Here’s the link to the article: 14 Practical Ways to Relive Caregiver Stress.

I appreciate hearing from you.  Positive or negative. My email is attached, or you can call the church and they will give you my number.

Feel free to respond, ask questions, or tell me what you think.

I hope that you can find one thing that will be helpful to

Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister

September 3, 2023

Caregiving For All:  September 3, 2023, Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister

As you already know, I too am a caregiver for my wife, and for a 96-year-old woman without any family nearby. The week of July 9-15 was tough for me, and it made me think about all the things we have talked about. In a conversation I had this past Thursday with my pastor, we talked about those caregiving issues and my spiritual experience preparing for the service I did last Sunday the 16th.

The first issue, of the second week of July, was struggling with the beginning of my sermon for July 16. Next, the 96-year-old, who is in memory care, was very upset about her money. She wanted to spend most of it for not an appropriate reason. I have no legal authority to handle any of her finances, or medical decisions; nor do I want them since that would go against my ministry responsibilities. A financial guardian takes care of those issues. I do communicate with those people and can see her medical files to help her. For a while, she thought I took her money and spent it. I tried to explain to her that she needed money to pay for her nursing care. I sent a text message to her financial guardian saying that person that the senior wants to spend some of her money, and also wants bank statements. As soon as I left, I immediately sent another text message telling her to ignore my previous message and to call me when they could to discuss. There is more background information that I can’t share. A few days later she changed her mind. Unfortunately, today she was back to giving her money away again. Some of you have noticed that having memory issues can create difficult situations. I would say this is an example of where those little white lies can be helpful, rather than creating animosity and bad reactions. To be honest with you, this is what has motivated me to share help and guidance for other caregivers, not necessarily because of all my wife’s issues.

Friday, July 14, was the day my wife had her 4+ hours at the Muscular Dystrophy Coordinated Treatment Clinic. She sees all the different therapists and her neurologist. Luann doesn’t like to have me there because I am honest and say what needs to be said. She gives me her Italian Evil Eye, and I’ve learned to be quiet until the next therapist or doctor comes in. It was sad to hear that she has lost most of her strength in all her extremities, and also has three fingers that won’t bend anymore. She had decided she couldn’t do the exercises at all back in November. We had agreed about two years ago that she would tell me when she was too tired to keep exercising, and doing things that kept her strong. This spring I had trouble lifting this petite woman because of my back and told her that she needed to get back to doing exercises, or we would have to start looking for a care facility for her sooner than we wanted. She did start doing exercises again, but the time away prevented her from getting the full benefit. Now we need more help with equipment to keep her at home. Unfortunately, more in-home aid is not available because everyone is short-staffed. I’m tired of that excuse. I have hired a friend to come in once a week to give me a chance to do something I need to accomplish, and Luann a break from me. Let me be clear, Luann continues to do activities in the building and enjoys her iPad.

Last weekend, I felt guilty that I had let her down, and not pushed to keep her exercising. Don’t let yourself get caught up in guilt. All it will do is interrupt logical thinking and make you worry about things out of your control. Guilt can be a determent to both the caregiver and the care receiver. We cannot play the game of “Should have; would have and could have.” We must realize that we are doing the best that we can. Letting negative medical and physical changes take over our lives creates a situation where we may second-guess ourselves. It can slowly eat at us until we don’t know what to do with the ones we love so dearly. Admit you made mistakes if you must. Then let them go, and never hang onto them, or keep bringing them back to burn deeper into the brain. It is OK to make mistakes. We all have made them since the day we started walking. We are human and will always have the curse. It’s what we learn from our mistakes that makes the biggest difference. How many times have you told that to your kids? We have to love ourselves and make peace, that we are doing the best that we can.

This is important because as time passes the decisions become more difficult. Take care of yourself. If you make a mistake and can correct it, do so and give yourself credit for recognizing and making a change. Most often, we won’t be able to change it much in these situations. Use it to grow.

I know that God walks with me and gives me the strength to get through these difficult times. I guess God gave me an extra dose of humor. We need to include God, not only when we make mistakes, but all the time. Give God the credit God deserves. In Micah 6:8 it says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

You don’t have to worry about whether you are making the right decisions, or not if you have included God in your plans.

Please excuse my editing mistakes. As a writer I usually have someone proof my work. I have a mental block for the endings of words like ed and ing. I read it as if it is there. I blame it on being Norwegian.

I appreciate hearing from you.  Positive or negative. My email is attached, or you can call the church and they will give you my number.

Feel free to respond, ask questions, or tell me what you think.

I hope that you can find one thing that will be helpful to you.  Email: larsondel@gmail.com

Compassion Fatigue

Caregiving For All:  July 23, 2023, Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister

Below is an interesting article on the caregiving.com website explaining a recently diagnosed condition called Compassion Fatigue.

I appreciate hearing from you.  Positive or negative. My email is attached, or you can call the church and they will give you my number.

Feel free to respond, ask questions, or tell me what you think.

I hope that you can find one thing that will be helpful to you.  Email: larsondel@gmail.com


Caregiving For All:  January 26, 2023, Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister

Lots going on in my caregiver journey.  Besides my wife and her needs, my lay ministry role has taken me on a few visits in the past couple of weeks. Every situation is different, as is for each of you.  How your care receiver reacts to you, or their care, can be a major source of frustration.  How we handle those moments is very important not only for the patient but for ourselves.  I believe my biggest frustrations come from agencies that I must deal with as a caregiver.  Issues range from losing personal items at the nursing home to communications with staff and support agencies.  It seems keeping me updated and informed is not a high priority anymore. Their response is “We are short-handed and it is difficult to find new people.” I understand.  The world is a different place compared to pre-Covid.  My opinion, and from what I have heard, is that many younger workers generally do not have the same work ethic that we grew up with years ago.  I do not like to be forceful, because generally, everyone does better when we stay positive.  However, there are times when we need to go to higher levels to get things done.  I first recommend that you seek the highest power available by praying for guidance.  Let that be your guide.  Jesus was angry a few times and even threw a few tables.  Share your concerns, but always end with a way of reconciliation.  If people fear you and are always on the defensive, there will be more problems because of fear.  I try to thank the staff as often as I remember.  Show that appreciation. I buy big bags of miniature candy and share some with staff in the different places that have caregivers, including medical facilities. Some days you may need immediate help from them.  Please do not think that I am a cool cat that lets everything roll over me like water.  I have my moments. Once, I took my granddaughter (and her mother) to the ER for the third time in less than 24 hours.  She was a very sick toddler.  When they did not see her immediately, I became very angry that they kept sending her home.  I was escorted to patient services by security to file a complaint. By the time I finished, she was in an ER room.  As I sat there waiting for tests to come back, I got thinking about what had happened, and it made me very sad.  I walked out to the triage desk and asked to speak with the charge nurse.  The 5’6″ 120-pound nurse came out in the hall and I apologized, but she let into me and knocked me down from 6’0″ to about 13″.  I deserved all of it.  That is when I decided it is better to build people up and be thankful even before I am cared for or served. I started my candy treats then.  I am sorry this got a little long, but I hope you find value in my mistake that helps you avoid the same situation.  God is working on me to be humble.

My post entitled Helpful Resources is filled with links that focus on the caregivers’ well-being. If you have any certain issues, you need help with, please let me know.  Remember, I am not a professionally certified caregiving authority.  My certification comes from God.

Lastly, I have hesitated to share information on dying and death.  Each person handles it differently.  If you would like information on this please let me know and I will share it with you.  I learned it the hard way at the time of death back in the late 90s.

I appreciate hearing from you.  Positive or negative. My email is attached, or you can call the church and they will give you my number.

Feel free to respond, ask questions, or tell me what you think.

I hope that you can find one thing that will be helpful to you.  Email: larsondel@gmail.com

Helpful Resources

Caregiving For All: June 19, 2023, Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister

There are many resources out there for caregivers. I am trying to keep you as informed as I possibly can. It would take me a century to share it all. I doubt I have that much time, but knowing God, anything is possible. I will continue to share insights from my research, personal experiences, classes and online groups, and information I receive from other resources. I find my searching has helped me to find answers, not just about diseases, but for me personally on how to take care of myself, so that I can care for others. Some of these may be a repeat, but that is good for those of us who need reviews. We have a half dozen new readers since I started this blog in November 2022. Listed below are but a few sources that I have found extremely useful that contain useful information.

* The AARP magazine has an article on caregiving in each edition.

* Teepa Snow, a dementia care specialist, and the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) Team share about dementia so that everyone can understand why changes are happening and how you can support those living with brain change more positively and respectfully.

* Elaine K Sanchez, author, speaker, and founder of an organization called CaregiverHelp has been an outstanding resource for me on my caretaking journey. Based on her extensive experience of caring for family elders, Elaine K Sanchez developed a passion for helping others manage the emotional stress of caregiving. Below is a talk that Sanchez gave entitled “Finding Hope, Humor, and Heart in Caregiving.” I found it particularly helpful when dealing with the everyday stresses of caregiving. I believe that for me, my humor helps me to be a better caregiver. The more I can make my wife or others laugh, the less stress I feel. I am not going to tell you I do not face stress and sadness, but I am happy with my progress with joy and laughter.

* DailyCaring website. It contains several articles with a lot of excellent caregiver information. One article I found very helpful in dealing with the everyday stresses of caregiving was this one “5 Ways to Reduce and Manage Caregiver Resentment.”

* Today’s Caregiver website. This site also contains a wealth of information to aid you in your caregiving journey. One I found most helpful was this one on “Emotional Fatigue.” It listed the signs of fatigue and tips on how to deal with it. This came at a good time for me, as I too am struggling. For me, my goal is to avoid depression, frustration, or anxiety for less than a day. Yes, I talk a lot to myself, and I do answer as well.

I appreciate hearing from you. Positive or negative. My email is attached, or you can call the church and they will give you, my number. Feel free to respond, ask questions, or tell me what you think. I hope that you can find one thing that will be helpful to you. Email: larsondel@gmail.com

Thoughts on the University of Minnesota Caregiving Conference

Caregiving For All:  June 15, 2023, Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister

Wow!  It has been two weeks since the University of Minnesota Caregiver Conference.   I wanted to share this with you, but my notes are long.  Instead, if you send me a request, (address below) I will forward a link so you can view conference highlights.

The opening session, AVOIDING POWER STRUGGLES by Deb Nygaard was, in my opinion the best session for me.  It hit the nail on the head with information on how to deal with dementia patients as the disease progresses.

The second session, THE CAREGIVING PRINCIPLE, presented by Carol Amos. The caregiving principle: “Needs of the Loved One minus Needs filled by the Loved One equals Needs to be filled by the Caregiver.”  It was helpful for me as she clarified the symptoms of caregiver Stress, and how to better take care of ourselves.  For caregivers, their health is a slow decline but increases as time and stress increase.  Most do not realize how much their workload increases until it is too late.  Caregiving can last over 20 years.  Most do not recognize the toll on the body until they realize they are struggling mentally or physically.

The third session, RESILIENT TOGETHER presented by Jeremy Holloway, Ph.D., talked about Cross-Cultural Communications.  Its focus was on better help for all care patients no matter what their cultural background is.

The Last session WORKING TOGETHER WITH RESIDENTIAL CARE CENTER STAFF presented by Amy House, a director of a nursing facility.  In this session Amy offered helpful information on working with nursing home staff and the facilities. Since returning from the conference, I was able to use the information more than once when helping my 96-year-old friend move into a memory care facility.

I have heard that a few of you are experiencing serious life issues.  If there is anything I can do, please feel free to contact me.  Reach out to family and friends. Be honest and tell them you need their support.   You do not have to do this alone.  For me, God is my strength.  I know I am never walking alone. God puts others in our lives to help.  I will keep all of you in my prayers.

I appreciate hearing from you.  Positive or negative. My email is attached, or you can call the church and they will give you my number.

Feel free to respond, ask questions, or tell me what you think.

I hope that you can find one thing that will be helpful to you.  Email: larsondel@gmail.com

Some Differences Between Age Related Memory Loss and Dementia

Caregiving For All:  March 21, 2023, Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister 

If you are experiencing difficulties with memory, know that they may not be signs of dementia. It could be memory loss as a part of normal aging.

Please note that the information on this page should not be used as a diagnostic tool, and is not a substitute for informed medical advice. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has dementia, please talk to your doctor.

What is aging?

Aging is a natural process for us. We will experience gradual changes to our brains and bodies. Some affect our physical and mental abilities and may increase our risk of disease. Each of us ages differently.  The changes vary from person to person.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each person should have the ability to live a long and healthy life.

What affects how I age?

Besides genetic factors, how we age depends on our lifestyles and environments. Generally, we can support healthy aging by challenging our brains, eating healthily, and being physically and socially active, among other lifestyle choices. While these choices do not guarantee a long, healthy life free of disease, they are our best options for decreasing the risk of disease and ensuring our well-being as we age.

Will my memory get worse as I age?    As we grow older, it is natural to feel concerned about changes in our mental abilities. We want to carry out our daily routines, be self-sufficient and relive the most treasured moments of our lives without having to worry about our memory and dementia.

Most of us will experience no problems with memory.  Most of us will continue to have strong memories as we age. Our ability to remember will not decline rapidly or substantively. In old age, we will retain the skills and knowledge learned throughout our lives.

Some of us will experience memory loss.  Almost 40% of us will experience some form of memory loss after we turn 65 years old. But even if we experience memory loss, chances are still unlikely that we have dementia. For the most part, our memory loss is mild enough that we can still live our day-to-day lives without interruption.

A smaller percentage of us will have dementia.  The WHO estimates that after we turn 60 years old, 5 to 8% of us will live with dementia at some point. With dementia, symptoms including memory loss gradually worsen to the point where our abilities seriously deteriorate and we are no longer able to take care of ourselves. There are different levels of memory loss and not all memory loss is due to dementia. So how can you tell which is which?

I appreciate hearing from you.  Positive or negative. My email is attached, or you can call the church and they will give you my number.

Feel free to respond, ask questions, or tell me what you think.

I hope that you can find one thing that will be helpful to you.  Email: larsondel@gmail.com

Self-Care is Vital III

Caregiving For All:  March 1, 2023, Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister

Sweat the small stuff

° Give yourself credit for what you do.

You probably hear often what an angel, or loving soul you are for taking care of a loved one. We politely say thank you.  Yes, you are all of those and more.  You make God smile and others wonder how you do it all.  Do not let these comments slide by without including a very important wish.  I wish that I had the strength of an angel, and could feel my soul at peace.  I realize that is not possible because God only gives you enough strength for that moment.  So let go of your worries, and your soul is at peace.   That is tough to do.  We lack the faith to trust God will get us through each day’s new situations.  We go to sleep at night believing we have done our best and we give thanks.   Now it is time to find joy and happiness in your life.


° Include joy and happiness in your life.

Being a caregiver is the most difficult job I have ever done in my life.   I like to laugh and make others laugh.  My poor wife thinks I laugh too often, although I hear her trying to cover up a snicker a few times each day.  I’m not sure that I would survive this role without using humor.  Yes, I get frustrated often, but I don’t like the feeling of being down, and not under control.  When we feel the pressure and start to melt down, we make mistakes.  We say things we wish we hadn’t.  When you give up, and doubts start to creep in, you are at the end of your rope.  Find joy and laughter.  Watch a funny movie; have coffee (or beer for me) with some friends; and do something you enjoy that brings satisfaction.  Lastly, journal about your experiences.  Buy a notebook, and try to write in it every two days.  You will find that it gives you a release from your frustrations when you write down what is happening.  You can see patterns about both you and your patient that could be helpful in their care.  If you continue to struggle, seek help.  Your care receiver needs you, and so do others in your life.  You are the sunshine on a cloudy day.  For me joking and laughing make a difference.


Here are some of the best traits that every caregiver should have:

  • Patience: Those who provide home care to others need to be patient.  When I feel I’m starting to lose it, and I’m about to say something I shouldn’t, I zip my mouth shut, smile, and thank God. This is a great release for me.  Sometimes my wife sees me do this and smiles.  She understands.
  • Compassion: When someone has compassion for another they have an understanding of what the person is going through.  Be a person of compassion.  Have a heart that opens for others.  Practice compassion with all.  Let them see what compassion looks like so they understand how to share when the time arises.
  • Attentiveness:  It is easy to get distracted in the business of a caregiver.  Try to be tuned in not only to the person receiving your care but also yourself.  You have to protect yourself just as much as you do your loved one.  DO NOT feel guilty if your patient criticizes you. Listen and acknowledge their concerns, then evaluate what you need to do.
  • Dependability:  Your plate is overfilled.  You don’t use a plate, but rather the whole table.  There is so much for you to do.  Ask for help.  Be organized, but ask for help.  Be a manager, not the whole team.
  • Trustworthiness: This is important because you are dealing with a vulnerable person.  You need the support of the whole caring team.  Journaling is very helpful.

What is the golden rule in caregiving?  Any ideas?

I appreciate hearing from you.  Positive or negative. My email is attached, or you can call the church and they will give you my number.

Feel free to respond, ask questions, or tell me what you think.

I hope that you can find one thing that will be helpful to you.  Email: larsondel@gmail.com

Self-Care is Vital Part II

Caregiving For All:  February 20, 2023, Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister 

° Eat healthy meals and get plenty of exercise.

I am doing all the cooking now, and sometimes it is easier to just make Mac & Cheese.  However, both you and your patient must eat healthy meals.  There are quick and easy healthy meals you can get, but make sure you are getting what you need.  As we age, we eat less, and it can become easier to just do a simple meal. Check with your doctor about seeing a nutritionist.  Don’t slip into snack foods all the time.   FYI: You had better sell any stock you have in Hershey’s, as I have stopped eating their dark chocolate bars because of the high levels of lead and cadmium.  I know, I’ve been eating it since I had teeth.  At your next blood draw, check your levels of these two hard metals.  Exercise is important until the very end.  If you are not ambulatory,  you can do many exercises from your chair or bed.  Check with your doctor or therapist about which are best for you.

°  Accept offers, or reach out to friends to reconnect.

When people ask you how your spouse is doing, be honest.  Sometimes when I am frustrated, I will say she is doing great, but I’m not worth a dime.  This will get their attention.   At this moment, my spouse is doing well in her situation, because we are well-planned.  However, I miss the interaction with old friends and people whom I spent time with.  We MUST be honest.  If they volunteer to help, accept it.  Have them run errands for you.  Have them sit with your care recipient, or just visit them so you have a break.  Go out to eat with old friends, while someone cooks for your patient.  Go to a game, or a movie, or visit friends.  I have noticed that I hear less from old friends that we were close to before the pandemic.  I try to call them, but it doesn’t usually work to meet up.  There are three reasons for that:

  1. We are all getting older and it is harder to get out.
  2. Covid threatened us, so we stay home.
  3. For some it is hard to visit someone who needs special care. Don’t be upset.  Deal with it. Educate them.  Make plans, invite them over, go yourself and visit them.  Many are great Facebook friends.  These are great relationships that can help both of you. Encourage any help you can get.  Don’t just say we are OK.  Accept the offers. Otherwise, put out a sign on Facebook.  Help needed!  I’m feeling overwhelmed and need someone who has time to visit my wife so I can go out to a game for some renewal. If your care recipient can be alone for a few hours, find someone to take you fishing.  It will get more difficult later to have time for yourself, so thank them and tell them how much you appreciate the encouragement.   Give credit to those who help you (family, friends, neighbors).  Remember, that God plays a  big hand in our success as a caregiver. We sometimes struggle with God, and why God is giving us this burden or causing this terrible disease.  Find someone you can talk to about your faith.  It is easy to blame God and turn away from God.   Message or call me.  I’ve battled God.  I have been angry as Hell with God.  There are many great books to read.  I have a great list of resources.   

I will have on this important topic shortly.  Take the time to digest these tips.  Put reminders on your calendar to call someone.  Plan to attend a concert, a movie, or a game even if it is by yourself.  Take the time for your healing.   In my next blog, I will share why it is good to Give Yourself Credit and Include Joy and Laughter in your life.

I appreciate hearing from you.  Positive or negative. My email is attached, or you can call the church and they will give you my number.

Feel free to respond, ask questions, or tell me what you think.

I hope that you can find one thing that will be helpful to you.  Email: larsondel@gmail.com

Self-Care is Vital Part I

Caregiving For All:  February 20, 2023, Del Larson, Certified Lay Minister

Self-Care Is Very Important. Since I began caregiving, I have heard these five words probably 100 times. At the beginning of my caring journey, I was reading articles in different magazines on Caregiving. Most of those lessons have been repeated time and time again. Being a Caregiver adds much more to what is Love.

° Self-care is just as important as the care you give your loved one. To love someone else, you have to first love yourself, so that you not only know what love is but also how it feels. You will hear care leaders say if you don’t take care of yourself, who will take care of your loved one as you do? Sixty percent of caregivers die or become unable to care for their loved ones. Each group is 30%

. ° Self-care helps the care-recipient learn to be under the care of others and still be well. Many helpful aids can make the life of a caregiver less hectic and worrisome. Ask your doctor, and find an online, or in-person support groups to meet with. I’m part of the Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota (LSS) online caregiver group. There are many resources available. Get a fall detection device; security camera for when you are out of the home; and create a schedule of helpers that can give you a break when you need it.

° Set limits for what you can do. When you start as a caregiver, your ability to help is probably much easier. However, as you and your care-receiver age, abilities will change and become more difficult. I had major back surgery two years ago. Although my surgery was a success, I have noticed that I don’t have the strength or durability to do the same amount of caregiving. I am learning to adapt. I wear a back brace and use a belt to move or transition my wife. She doesn’t like it, but can’t take the risk, nor should I. Ask for more help. I am creating an outline for an Emergency Plan that I use for my wife’s care that originated with LSS. If something happens to me, or I am unavailable to care for her the plan is ready to implement. Emergency Plans will be addressed in a later blog.

° Take time to get away from your caregiving and do things you enjoy. In January, I took a respite trip to Tucson, AZ. for six days. It was time that I practice what I was preaching. I have taken half-day trips for hunting, and even a couple of weekends for fishing. My Emergency Plan was initially created for my back surgery when I would be in rehab for two weeks. It worked perfectly when needed. We made some changes and improved it for my Arizona trip. We never know what can happen. We should never live on “what ifs.” These are top tips to help you during your self-care.

° You will find God is your best help. There is no doubt in my mind that I could never be a caregiver without having God as my partner. There are so many examples of how God is helping me be successful, as both a caregiver and in sharing these topics. In our recent caregivers’ online meeting, I was the only one to share how the church should reach out to help those in caregivers. This is what got me on this topic, and also got me thinking about how can I get other churches to do what God expects us to do; helping and loving those who need help. It was one of those “lightbulb moments.” It felt like God rapped me over the head with a 2×4, to get me moving. I’m excited about the project. I will share more as it develops. God bless you.

I appreciate hearing from you.  Positive or negative. My email is attached, or you can call the church and they will give you my number.

Feel free to respond, ask questions, or tell me what you think.

I hope that you can find one thing that will be helpful to you.  Email: larsondel@gmail.com