I am pleased to welcome Melissa Cohn Bernstein, one of our guest bloggers this month.  Melissa and I have collaborated on online learning projects together for a number of years.  Melissa owns Dynamic Learning Online, an excellent source of continuing education for health care professionals.

 Thank you Jennifer for inviting us to Guest Blog for you!

As an Occupational Therapist, married to a Geriatrician, many of our discussion revolve around the care and needs of the senior population.  My husband’s book, I’ve Got Some Good News and Some Bad News YOU’RE OLD, Tales of a Geriatrician, provides many “lessons learned” from the thousands of patients he has treated in his 30 years of practice. He developed the acronym  G.R.A.C.E. leads to a happier healthier life.

What does G.R.A.C.E. stand for?

G stand for Goals, R for Roots or DNA, A for Attitude, C for Companionship and E for Environment.
He observed from his patients who have lived happy, healthy, and long lives, that the traits of GRACE had been incorporated into their lives.
G-having Goals or a purpose in life leads to greater satisfaction and fulfillment.
R-knowing your Roots or DNA is critical to understanding your genetic makeup and what risks or benefit you can derive from your heredity.
A-having a positive Attitude and being grateful, showing gratitude for what you have leads to greater enjoyment and experiences in life.
C- Companionship and connections to others is a critical factor in forming supportive and loving relationships.
E- Environment is what you do to live a healthier life, such as eating, exercising, sleeping and listening to your physician’s advice.

GRACE plays an important role in caring for loved ones, especially someone who has memory impairment or Dementia.  Having clearly defined Goals or a purpose for each day provides much needed structure, an essential component for an individual who is bombarded with distractions daily.  Roots, in this case family structure or family tree, denotes  knowing who your family is,  and that you can count on them to assist and provide much needed respite and support.  Family can also be loosely interpreted to include local friends and your support system as well.   Having a positive Attitude is essential in surviving the marathon of living and sustaining a loved one with Dementia.  Included within the trait of attitude is gratitude since without it we become less human.  Companionship and Connection with our loved one brings us back to the depth of our love within the relationship, and it becomes the glue that holds us together through difficult times.  Connections within our community enable us to seek and obtain much needed physical and emotional support.  Keeping the Environment safe and uncluttered helps prevent injuries and reduces distractions both of which are detrimental to the individual with dementia.  Providing a healthy environment includes a healthy lower carbohydrate diet, physical activity/exercise, and good sleep habits.

It is important to remember the 5 characteristics of GRACE when caring for a loved one with memory impairment or dementia.   Whether it is in the early stages and in a home environment, or in the later stages where the loved one resides in an assisted living facility or nursing home, they all need a little GRACE.

How are you applying GRACE in your life and the lives of your loved ones?
We are happy to hear from you!

Here’s to aging GRACEfully!
© 2014, Melissa Cohn Bernstein, OTR/L, FAOTA
Dynamic Learning Online, Inc.
melissa@dynamicgrp.com

David Bernstein, MD, FACP
Physician-Author-Public Speaker
david@davidbernsteinmd.com