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09.29.22 | Sage Advice

Travel the World From The Comfort of Your Home

Traveling is one of the best ways to experience new cultures and hear from other walks of life. However, because of the global pandemic, many of us haven’t had the opportunity to continue checking off bucket list locations in a few years. And although there’s nothing like stepping into a new place, new travel-like opportunities are beginning to emerge, including armchair travel.

What is Armchair Travel?

Have you ever wanted to visit a different country from the comfort of your home? Well, now you can! Armchair travel provides a sensory experience to those looking to learn about a location without going through the hassle of actually traveling. The virtual activity invokes everything from local sights and smells to mindsets and cultural conventions. 

We’ve had the pleasure of embracing the value behind armchair traveling in our Vibrant Learning Program at Chicago Commons. With the help of DeShunn Bray, our Manager of Programming and Community Engagement, participants in our Vibrant Learning Program have had the opportunity to experience everything from an African safari to a trip to Germany and Columbia. 

Participants of our Vibrant Learning Program at Chicago Commons participating in armchair travel

How to Participate 

Becoming an armchair traveler is easier than it sounds, thanks to the do-it-yourself element of the activity. Start by considering if you’d rather travel alone or gather a group of family or friends to accompany you on your journey; traveling with a group tends to spark more engaging conversations and perspectives after the activity. 

Once you’ve decided who you’re traveling with, make a list of general themes and ideas for your travels. These can include everything, from national parks and landmarks to the location of famous events or your favorite movie. Once you’ve created your list, search for resources to assist you in your travels. If you’re tech-savvy, head to YouTube or take a stroll to your local library to find even more free films and videos. Once you’ve found a video accompaniment, pair your trip with a craft activity and serve a local delicacy to complete the experience! 

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your armchair trip now!

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07.28.22 | Sage Advice

How to Combat Senioritis As An Adult

It’s not just teenagers who can feel senioritis adults can too. We’ve all experienced it at some point; laziness, disinterest, having no motivation, not caring about the outcomes of our life. But just because these symptoms of checking out are universally experienced doesn’t make them okay to ignore. Today, we’re investigating adult senioritis, how checking out can affect your wellbeing and tools you can use to combat it:

What Senioritis Looks Like As An Adult

You might know senioritis as the affliction many seniors in high school experience as they enter their final year when their motivation declines and their drive to succeed diminishes. Though this phenomenon isn’t just found in young adults, anyone can experience senioritis. 

Typically, senioritis begins when there is a sign of a major transformation occurring in life, like graduating high school or even starting a new job. It begins with a fear of the future and feeling like you may not have control over a situation. As we age, many of the small tasks we enjoy earlier in life become tiresome and lose value to us, which can lead to checking out. 

However, it’s important to remember that checking out looks different to every person. The key is to recognize the signs and signals once you see them and begin taking action to snap out of the senioritis. 

How You Can Combat It

After acknowledging that you may be checking out, don’t start by setting unattainable goals for yourself – start small. Give yourself a to-do list of a handful of goals to reach every day, whether that’s going to the grocery store to run errands or making sure you respond to all of your emails. 

Once you’ve given yourself a list of small goals to aim for, the next step is to pair an incentive to it! Use motivations that connect back to why you might be checking out in the first place; if you’re starting a job, go shopping for new work clothes. Whatever your incentive is, use that to help drive you to complete your goals. 

As you tackle senioritis and become an active participant in your life again, remember to take it one step at a time. It might not always feel like you’ll be able to step out of it, but you will. 

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06.03.22 | Sage Advice

Introducing Our Newest Board Member: Camille Love

With a passion for the empowerment and health of her community, Camille Love always knew that she would thrive in the healthcare field. And today, with more than 16 years of experience under her belt, she continues to search for opportunities where she can lend her expertise in community healthcare. The transition of long-time member Angela Higginbotham from our Board recently created such an opportunity for Camille Love and added to the related expertise of Sage Collective as it pursues ways of encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices among older adults in underserved communities. We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce Camille Love as the newest addition to the Sage Collective Board of Directors. Get to know Camille in her introduction below: 

Can you talk a bit about your professional background and how it has added to your expertise in your field?

I originally started my nursing career when I was very young, around 16, when I decided to become a certified nursing assistant. I’ve never been in any other field besides nursing. From starting as a CNA, to becoming a registered nurse and now a nurse practitioner, I recognize that I have been completely focused for nearly two decades in work that is meaningful and fulfilling every day.

I transitioned into being a nurse practitioner when I felt that I wanted to broaden my scope of work. And now, I’m at a point in my career where I’m ready to take on leadership roles where I can empower and mentor other nurses and healthcare providers.  

What should those outside of the healthcare ecosystem know about the community caregiving experience?

Overall, I feel that there are two factors that everyone should keep in mind. On one side, I see the need for more compassion, which I say because we often see people now who have compassion fatigue. In general, we all need to show more sympathy and compassion to one another because you never know what others are going through at that moment. They might be a very fatigued healthcare provider, or if they aren’t a healthcare provider, they may be completely isolated. 

The second point is to practice safe behaviors. It’s easy to brush little things off of your shoulder when they might not affect you, but try to keep in mind that your actions could, in turn, affect someone else. If you’re possibly exposed to something like COVID-19, be considerate and make the smart decision to stay home and wear a mask so you don’t accidentally expose anyone else. 

Sage Collective believes that a sense of ‘care for the collective’ is essential for not only individual health but the health of a community. How does this belief translate through your own work and past experiences?

My experience has taught me that the health literacy of those outside of healthcare is very low, and I feel  that if we did a better job of communicating within our communities, that simple act of just talking to one another lessens the burden of providers and relieves some anxiety for community members. For example, parents need to understand that if their child has a temperature and a runny nose, it’s not something out of the ordinary and often doesn’t require attention from us in the hospital. 

If someone in that parent’s family had told them that this level of illness is normal, that would help create literacy in the community. So, in turn, they wouldn’t be burdening the providers to address a set of symptoms, which, in their eyes, is a simple matter. 

I also deal with older adults who have chronic illnesses like diabetes. In the African American community, we traditionally go heavy on salt, which leads to high blood pressure and other conditions. In the Latinx community, we have patients whose diets rely on tortillas, beans and other high-carb foods. Communication within these communities is essential when talking about wellness, since it completely changes the game when it comes to the knowledge and decisions people make about their diet. So, if you have a simple conversation amongst family, friends or community members, you could change a whole community’s health based on word of mouth and education. So, the healthcare-focused component of my work completely aligns with the community component that Sage provides.

What other unique values held by Sage Collective have drawn you to join the Board?

I’m currently working for an organization that is a federally-qualified health center, so our objective is to provide excellent quality healthcare to underserved communities. This has always been my mission in healthcare since that population is, well, underserved in nearly every aspect of life. So, working with Sage Collective, I can help populations that are both underserved and overlooked. 

Within the Sage ecosystem, you have people of color, and you have the elderly, and then you have people who face financial hardships, so these circumstances are not affording them luxuries that other persons would normally get. My fuel is to always target and give the best to underserved communities, so I was immediately drawn to Sage Collective because of our parallels. 

What is the significance of having intergenerational relationships in the healthcare world? Specifically in community health?

Intergenerational relationships are integral to the success of communities. They offer the opportunity to bring together the tried-and-true conventions that exist within the healthcare field with the energy, innovations and new perspectives of younger generations. 

What are you most looking forward to as a new member of Sage Collective’s board? 

I’m very excited to be working with the other leaders on the Sage Collective Board, and to have the opportunity to learn from them, pick their brains, and of course, contribute to the organization itself. I’m also eager to serve and have the opportunity to continue the work that has inspired me for so long, but in a different capacity, through housing and programming.

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12.14.21 | Sage Advice

Deliciously Healthy Winter Dishes For Any Gatherings

When winter comes around, no matter where you end up, it’s not difficult to find the sweet treats and savory meals that are traditionally associated with the season. However, for those inspired to maintain or start conscious eating habits, the winter can be a difficult time filled with temptation. Today, inspired by our vibrant living principles, we’re sharing a few deliciously healthy winter dishes that anyone can enjoy this winter. 

Sweet Potatoes

A favorite during this time of year, sweet potatoes are hard not to enjoy. While most people enjoy sweet potatoes even sweeter, baked with brown sugar and marshmallows, there are various methods to cook the vegetables that are just as enjoyable but much healthier. Like a standard potato, sweet potatoes can be served in a variety of ways. Baking them whole, mashing them, and even dicing them in a salad proves how versatile the vegetables can be. No matter how you cook them, we promise they won’t lose the sweetness that makes them so delectable in the first place. 

Winter Crudités

Who doesn’t love a mix of fresh vegetables? Crudités make the perfect winter dish for that reason. Not only can the appetizer appeal to virtually anyone, but it comes with a plethora of highly vitamin-packed vegetables that you can personally pick and choose. If you want to put a twist on the classic appetizer, make your own tasty dip to pair with the refreshing produce. 

Festive Fruit Salad

While it might seem out of season, a festive and healthy fruit salad is sure to excite taste buds in the winter. Similar to the crudités, not only is this dish healthy, but you can bring it and eat it anywhere and anytime. The nourishing food makes a perfect option for a morning snack or a late-night dessert. Along with the fruit, don’t be afraid to add in extra ingredients that bring even more flavor to the salad like mint, basil, lavender or even cayenne pepper for a little heat. 

Seasonal Squash

Another versatile food, squash is the perfect vegetable to substitute in and out of almost every traditional meal. Typically harvested in the fall, the nutrient-packed acorn squash, sugar pumpkins, spaghetti squash and butternut squash are available for cooking your favorite dishes year-round. Some seasonal favorites include butternut squash mac and cheese, soup and casserole, stuffed acorn squash and roasted spaghetti squash with kale

Even with the sweet temptations that surround us throughout the holiday season, healthy options are never too far out of reach. Whether you’re serving food at home for yourself or preparing a dish to bring to a gathering, there are various methods we can each take to continue practicing conscious eating habits and living vibrantly.

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08.10.21 | Sage Advice

Embracing the cultural process of aging

As we articulate in the Sage Vibrant Living Manifesto, cultural perceptions of aging have an enormous impact on individuals and their communities. As we continue to fight ageism and the traditional American notions of aging that many of us still experience today, we look to the wisdom of others to share new ways of thinking and doing.

Carl Honoré, writer and activist, argues that in order to age better we must feel better about the process. Learning how to age better in a world where aging is presented in a negative frame can be extremely hard, but it only takes a few minutes to change your perspective. In his TED Talk, Honoré explains how to embrace the aging process. Honoré also delves into his method for combating ageist traditions and practices within our lives. Watch below to learn more:

A quote sits on top of an image of two older adults laughing. The quote reads "We need to feel better about aging in order to age better," and is attributed to Carl Honore. The sage logo sits in the bottom right corner.
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08.05.21 | Sage Advice

Understanding Mutual Aid: How It Can Support Community Success

At Sage Collective, we strive to foster feelings of value, engagement and community. One of the most impactful ways these shared values can be attained is through the action of practicing mutual aid in our everyday lives. 

The concept of mutual aid is something not talked about enough, specifically in shared environments. Looking back on the events of the past 18 months, the practice of mutual aid is more important than ever to the continued success and survival of communities like ours all around the world. 

What is it?

Mutual aid (often referred to as care webs)  is a form of public and political participation for neighborhoods, organizations and groups of all sizes. They provide an avenue for looking after and tending to each other’s health and well-being to create more livable, sustainable environments.

The process and goal of mutual aid is to create accessible and collective care by accepting and sharing mutual responsibility within one’s community space. 

Why is it important?

One of the most important reasons why enacting mutual aid in these spaces is such a key to survival is because it helps foster community engagement and social relationships through responsible, collective action. The more people who perform mutual aid in a shared community or group, the greater its tangible benefits spread.

The concept of mutual aid also parallels other values that we hold at Sage Collective, since it lessens the strain on individuals by strengthening the collective will and ability to ensure the success of all. Think about the expression “a rising tide lifts all boats.” That’s mutual aid in a nutshell.

How to practice it?

There are many ways to practice mutual aid in everyday life. Some may practice it in routine activities and others may spend time waiting for an event or specific cause they feel comfortable supporting. The most important thing to remember about mutual aid is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to offer more than you are capable of providing for yourself or your community.

Here are some examples of how to apply mutual aid in your own life:

Offering a space to share information, organizations and resources such as access to healthcare and food services, as well as transportation accessibility. 

Taking political action locally by volunteering for campaigns and vocally supporting policies that may help those in your community, or actively supporting movements, protests and funds that help benefit those in your care web.

Practicing mindfulness and sharing resources for anything from mediation guides to suggestions for dealing with anxiety, grief or anger.

Providing communication skills such as being open to offering translation services, if you are multilingual, to those in need. You can also help others with different technology devices and platforms you might better understand, or training and learning techniques in bystander intervention and/or steps for nonviolent communication. 

These are all ways in which we can help to foster a sense of connectedness and community among your neighbors and friends in support of uplifting the collective.  Everyone has something that they can share with those who could use a little help in the community.  Sage encourages you to engage your friends and family to initiate activities that provide others a chance to share their skills and experience with those in need.  This isn’t a new concept, it’s simply one that could use a little refreshing.

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07.15.21 | Uncategorized

Radical ways to repair harm: restorative vs. transformative justice

The last year and a half marked a breaking point in the status quo. The combined stresses of a global pandemic, as well as increased national awareness of police brutality and racial injustice in America, made one thing clear: we need to radically reimagine our communal approach to safety and care.

As we collectively look to create a future where all people feel safe, longtime organizers and activists are pushing for two solutions: a turn towards restorative justice or transformative justice. These human-centric methods for addressing harm dispel the idea that people are disposable beings, or that punishment should be carceral. Learn more about the concepts, and what makes them different from one another, below:

Restorative Justice

Restorative justice acknowledges that when crime occurs, it causes harm to those that are involved. Rather than focusing solely on punishing the perpetrator of the crime, restorative justice is concerned with addressing the harm caused and the impact of that harm.

This is addressed by facilitating dialogue between all parties involved. Ideally, a conversation will be collectively held by all parties, including: the person who has caused the harm, the person who has been directly harmed, and the community where the harm occurs.

During this conversation, the person who has caused the harm should take accountability for their actions and make amends. The person who has been directly harmed may outline what they need in order to heal.

The community is an integral part of this process as well, because as the process of restorative justice seeks to route a path towards forgiveness and healing, its end goal is ultimately to reintegrate the person who has caused harm back into society, where they will have a second chance.

Transformative justice

In an article from Novel Hand examining the difference between restorative and transformative justice, and how transformative justice digs one step deeper, writing:

“…restorative justice attempts to restore to the condition before the harm took place. However, usually, that original condition is itself one that has a number of injustices built into it. Transformative justice aims to dig deeper: how can we also address the root causes of injustice and move toward an even stronger community?”

Essentially, restorative justice acknowledges the failings of our current carceral state, where the prison industrial complex puts people away for crime in a way that feels disposable rather than healing. But furthermore, transformative justice takes its critique of current systems further and acknowledges the failings of our current system to also address racism, sexism, ableism, and classism – and how these conditions contribute to where crime occurs, from whom it occurs, and how treatment/punishment differs across the spectrum.

Peace and Conflict scholar Anthony Nocella says on this subject: “Transformative justice…is about looking for the good within others while also being aware of complex systems of domination.”

This cursory overview of restorative and transformative justice is just the tip of what’s been said and what there is to learn about radically reimagining the ways we repair harm in our society. To learn more, we recommend reading the full article by Novel Hand and conducting your own research from there!


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11.10.20 | Sage Advice

Advice for Caretakers Caring for Loved Ones with Dementia

Caring for a loved one is no easy task, and no one should feel alone — whether caretaker or a loved one receiving care. In honor of National Family Caregiver Month, we spoke with Loren Faith Buford to discuss her expert insights and advice for caretakers caring for loved ones with dementia.

Buford is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the clinical program Supervisor of Senior Services at Metropolitan Family Services in DuPage County, as well as a member of the Board of Directors at Sage Collective. Beyond her extensive professional expertise, Buford and her sisters are taking care of their beloved 90-year old mother who is experiencing dementia.

Assessing You and Your Loved One’s Unique Situation

Sometimes the hardest part of caring for a loved one with dementia is admitting there’s a need. But that acknowledgement, and planning accordingly, can be vital. “The first thing you can do when grappling with caring for a loved one with dementia is to recognize the symptoms, and recognize that there’s a need,” confirms Buford. “Too often, those struggling with dementia are able to fool the people around them for a long time. You won’t know they need help, because they’re proud and want to maintain their dignity. But the truth is that everyone needs help, especially in cases of dementia, and it isn’t a shameful thing,” she says.

“Developing your awareness, and understanding when there’s a need to seek a medical diagnosis for your loved one takes attentive care,” says Buford. “If your loved one lives alone, for example, I recommend going to their house often: look in their refrigerator, see whether the mail is piling up, and to see whether they’re losing strength and struggling with daily tasks like cleaning or cooking. Those are the first signs. There will be behavioral signs too, like if they get upset more easily or begin repeating information.”

“Once you acknowledge the need for care is there, then you have to figure out how you can balance your life with helping them take best care of themselves,” shares Buford. “Specifically, how can you balance your self care with their care? That’s also why it’s so important to catch dementia early on: the sooner you acknowledge that need, the easier it will be to gather the necessary resources, people and services that are out there, and that can help make the task of caretaking easier on you.” 

Just as caretakers must help their loved one accept help, we too must help caretakers accept the help they themselves need to carry on this essential work.

Creating Solutions That Work: Balancing Communication and Care

Whether caretakers live with or apart from their loved one, establishing a routine of care that feels natural and comfortable for both parties is vital. Buford runs through the gamut of challenges: “When do they eat? How do they get exercise? How do I make sure they’re getting a rounded out day? And most of all — how do I ensure these things without upsetting my loved one and having them feel like all I ask about is medication?” And her answer: “You have to make these things a part of their life, and make it feel natural.”

Even when caretaking feels like a strenuous task, it’s important to remind oneself of the love driving the work. “You have to find ways to provide care and not be a martyr about it,” reflects Buford. “It’s essential that your loved one knows this is what you want to do — and that you’re a team. If they’re feeling it’s not genuine and you’re not comfortable, they’ll feel like a burden and they’ll fight and resist receiving care, and worst of all they won’t communicate, or feel comfortable sharing what they need. But when you’re a team, your loved one will feel like an active part of their own treatment plan, and together you can find solutions they take part in, agree and want.”

So how can caretakers build healthy trust and communication? “Make caretaking a good time and make those memories count. If your loved one starts singing a song, join in. If they’re laughing, laugh with them. When you join them in their world, you find that it’s fun for you, too. It creates a whole different dynamic between the two of you, one that’s productive, and also full of joy,” says Buford. 

And most important of all: “As your loved one’s dementia progresses,” advises Buford, “it’s absolutely vital to remind yourself that the core of that person is still there. Whether they’re having an irritable day, or maybe you’re having a bad day yourself, remind yourself to see them for what they were and continue to be: the person you love.”

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11.02.20 | Sage Advice

November is National Family Caregiver Month

November is National Family Caregiver Month — or NFC Month, for short. In support of those who take on the role of family caregiver, the month is meant to raise awareness for issues they face, to celebrate their tireless work and rally support for them and to educate caregivers themselves about self-identification.

The tradition began as National Family Caregivers Week in the mid 1990s. For years, American presidents have celebrated the week, and have given speeches in its honor. But it wasn’t until President Barack Obama’s NFC Month Proclamation in 2012 that the week became extended to an entire month. 

During the 2012 proclamation, President Obama stated: 

“Across America, daughters and sons balance the work of caring for aging parents with the demands of their careers and raising their own children. Spouses and partners become caregivers to the ones they love even as they navigate their own health challenges… All of them give selflessly to bring comfort, social engagement, and stability to those they love. National Family Caregivers Month is a time to reflect on the compassion and dedication that family caregivers embody every day. As we offer our appreciation and admiration for their difficult work, let us also extend our own offers of support to them and their loved ones.”

Each year, Caregivers Action Network (CAN) chooses a specific theme for National Family Caregivers Month. This year, the theme is Caregiving in Crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has escalated our concern for health and safety, and in turn, has placed greater stress on family caregivers as they navigate this challenging time. 

You can learn more about National Family Caregivers Month from AARP, here.

You can also read advice for older adult caretakers during the pandemic from Sage Collective’s own Rear Admiral (ret) James M. Galloway, here

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10.13.20 | Sage Advice

Advice for Older Adult Caretakers During the Pandemic

Caretakers shoulder a heavy responsibility; afterall, the health, wellbeing and happiness of another person is in their hands. Even on an ordinary day, caretaking can be an intense task — add a global pandemic on top of that, and many caretakers are feeling the weighty responsibility more than ever. We spoke with Rear Admiral (ret) James M. Galloway, MD, FACP, FACC, to compile advice (and helpful insights) to guide older adult caretakers through the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Galloway is a medical doctor and Public Health physician, as well as a member of the Sage Collective leadership team.

Starting with the Basics: Health and Safety

When working with vulnerable populations, like older adults, it’s more vital than ever to follow health and safety guidelines. “There are basic personal prevention practices that everyone should follow,” explains Dr. Galloway. “These include practicing social distancing, wearing masks at all times, isolating or quarantining when necessary and regularly cleaning your environment.” These are steps that many are familiar with, and the most up-to-date basic health and safety guidelines can always be found on the CDC website

However, many caretakers serve clients living in high-risk environments such as independent living facilities and retirement communities, and with increased risk, feel the need for increased precaution. Dr. Galloway provides a few additional tips and tricks: “Limiting the number of nonessential visitors is important. As we all know, the more people you interact with, the more at risk you are of encountering and contracting COVID-19. Beyond that, if you wear a reusable cloth mask, washing that mask regularly is vital. Another good practice is to increase indoor air circulation whenever possible by opening windows — but this of course can be a safety risk depending on your client.”

All in all, Dr. Galloway recognizes that each circumstance is unique. We’re all familiar with the risk COVID-19 poses and know the easiest way to prevent spread of the virus is total isolation. But of course, humans have other needs that conflict with basic health and safety — like our need to socialize with others and engage with the world to stay mentally well. “What we’ve outlined here are general guidelines,” Dr. Galloway explains, “but ultimately every decision we make is going to weigh the balance between risk and benefit, and that’s an individual decision.”

Balancing Emotional Wellbeing for Both Client and Caretaker

As addressed above, emotional wellbeing is a crucial component to a person’s overall health during the pandemic. For caretakers, ensuring their client remains engaged and connected has taken on new significance and importance. “It has become important for caretakers to take more time with their clients,” says Dr. Galloway, “to make a point to engage them in conversation and to help them stay connected with their loved ones. Caretakers have begun assisting clients in making regular phone calls or facilitating the use of FaceTime.” 

But for as much attention as caregivers put into ensuring the physical and emotional wellbeing of their client, it’s more important than ever to give that same attention to themselves. “Taking care of yourself ensures you can take your best care of others,” says Dr. Galloway. “Caring for a client or loved one can place stress on even the most resilient of people. So how can you take time to replenish your own wellbeing?”

Image of one person's hands holding another's, with text on top that reads Taking care of yourself ensures you can take your best care of others

In response to this question, Dr. Galloway has several pieces of advice. “First and most important: know the signs of unmanageable stress and know when to ask for help. Think about ways people you trust can help you, such as getting groceries for you during a long shift. Secondly, focus on what you’re able to provide. Nobody is perfect, even caregivers, so it’s important to acknowledge you’re doing the best you can. In that same vein: my third piece of advice is to set realistic goals. Creating a list of tasks allows you to check items off as you go, so you know you’re accomplishing things — and also, say no to tasks that are draining, like hosting Thanksgiving dinner!” 

There are many ways to self-manage stress, but Dr. Galloway also provides one other invaluable tip: “Get connected. Join a support group for caregivers! Many people see joining a support group as a weakness, but really it’s a strength. It’s an opportunity to gain new friends, and to develop your own strength and resiliency as you move forward. It’s so important to know you’re not alone in this struggle.”

Additional Resources:

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