65 episodes

Hosts Jennifer Mackinday and Mary Hahn Ward are long-time caregivers. "This Caregiver Life" podcast explores the journey of caregivers from all walks of life. Whether you are a caregiver, clinician, or community member supporting caregivers, you'll connect with our stories, resources, and insight. We share an unfiltered look into the frontlines of caregiving, of #thiscaregiverlife.

p.s. We are excited to share we have recently been rated a top ten caregiver podcast! Wow!

This Caregiver Life Mary Hahn Ward & Jennifer Smith Mackinday

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.8 • 11 Ratings

Hosts Jennifer Mackinday and Mary Hahn Ward are long-time caregivers. "This Caregiver Life" podcast explores the journey of caregivers from all walks of life. Whether you are a caregiver, clinician, or community member supporting caregivers, you'll connect with our stories, resources, and insight. We share an unfiltered look into the frontlines of caregiving, of #thiscaregiverlife.

p.s. We are excited to share we have recently been rated a top ten caregiver podcast! Wow!

    E63: Got Sleep?

    E63: Got Sleep?

    What keeps you up at night? In this episode of #thiscaregiverlife we explore insomnia related to caregiving, tactics to help you cope, and resources you may find useful. We also read an excerpt of writing from caregiver and listener, Theresa Coomer. Read Theresa's blog, Peanut Butter in My Purse and Vitamin C in My Pocket: https://coomercaregiving.blogspot.com/.

    If you're like a lot of caregivers, you likely find yourself saying "I'm exhausted", or "I can't sleep through the night".  Fall asleep or waking up and being unable to return to sleep plague caregivers like us! Here are a few tactics shared by other caregivers that may help:


    use a meditation or sleep assistance app
    practice mindful breathing
    listen to white noise/nature sounds-here's our favorite: https://amzn.to/3v98F6d 
    speak with your primary care physician - some caregivers benefit from taking supplements like melatonin or changing their diet
    practice good sleep hygiene, aka healthy habits such as getting up at the same time every day and keeping your room cool
    try aromatherapy such as an infuser, oils, Vicks patches, or using a laundry detergent like DIVA

    We also review a book this week! Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD. Lots of great tips in this book. My favorite is, "if you fall asleep reading this book, it's a compliment!". You can purchase the book here for under $15 on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3sCon8l. 

    Thanks for joining us and we hope this episode helps you get some much-deserved Zzzzs! -Mar & Jenn


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    • 37 min
    E62: Write Where You Are

    E62: Write Where You Are

    We all know how important it is for caregivers to focus on themselves. In this episode, Mar and Jenn discuss the powerful impact writing can have in the life of a caregiver. From journaling in a notebook to poetry and novels, caregivers everywhere are discovering the healing power of writing. Learn about writing prompts, which we will share in upcoming episodes and on social media. 

    Want to dig deeper? Read Ann Lamott's Bird by Bird. 

    Your hosts are authors, too. Though they have six books between them, they aren't done yet! Each has another book in the works!

    Jenn's books: Friends for Life: Strangers Brought Together by the War in Iraq, Reassurance: Treasured Christian Poems, and Amateur Apothecary

    Mar's books: Letters Home, Paws At Work, Thinking Through VA Benefits and Care: A Resource for Veterans with ALS and Their Caregivers and her blog: http://www.maryhahnward.com/

    We'd love to read your writing on an upcoming episode. Email an excerpt to thiscaregiverlife@gmail.com. Thank you for listening!


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    • 39 min
    E61: Alexa, Help Me With Caregiving

    E61: Alexa, Help Me With Caregiving

    After receiving an Alexa Echo Show for Christmas, Jenn found there were a number of tools that for caregivers and their loved ones, including the Care Hub. This free feature of Alexa-enabled devices works with the Alexa App and allows caregivers to remotely check in on care recipients. With an Echo device at your loved one's home and the Alexa app on your phone, you can see if they are being active, help set reminders and make list, and even get notified if they ask Alexa for help. Listen in as Mar and Jenn discuss technology and caregiving, and join the conversation on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages. 

    Thanks for listening!


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    • 19 min
    E60: #NationalCaregiversDay is Every Day

    E60: #NationalCaregiversDay is Every Day

    Join us to celebrate our 60th episode and two years of podcasting. Mar and Jenn are thankful for your support and to everyone who has shared this podcast to help other caregivers get through this caregiver life. 

    If you are an author and would like your book considered for review on a future podcast, please see our website for submission details. 

    Do you care for a loved one with Alzheimer's or memory disease? Visit wearehfc.org to find support and resources. 

    *Hear strange noises during this episode? No worries, that's our special guest, Jenn's three-month-old granddaughter, Freyja. 


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    • 46 min
    E59: From Disaster to Alright, After All

    E59: From Disaster to Alright, After All

    Our guests in this episode are Melissa Johnson and Melissa Comeau with the American Red Cross Military and Veteran Caregiver Network (MVCN). 

    Melissa Johnson's husband is a combat veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm and was wounded in Iraq in 2006, leaving him with traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and blindness. Melissa reflects on the past 15 years of caregiving and shares her advice with those new to the challenge:


    Learn to live in recovery
    Recognize the cycles of caregiving
    Adapt to the transitions
    Accept today, don't worry about tomorrow

    Melissa Comeau has been a caregiver for 10 years to her husband, a Marine Corps veteran with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. She stresses the importance of controlling what you can and organizing what you can't! Her advice: don't lose yourself! Melissa has found journaling to be healing, and we encourage you to read her book, Sleeping With the War.  Follow updates and learn how to purchase a copy: https://www.facebook.com/sleepingwiththewr/. 

    Learn about MVCN's use of the Rutgers Reciprocal Support Model, giving to yourself as you give to others. 

    To connect with the American Red Cross directory for ALL caregivers, visit redcross.org/caregivers and herocare.auntbertha.com.

    A great resource for anyone grieving a service member or veteran: taps.org.


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    • 1 hr
    E58: Sayonara, 2020

    E58: Sayonara, 2020

    Well, we made it to the end of 2020. What will 2021 look like? Who knows, but what we do know is that we will move forward with deliberate actions to make a difference. 

    We wrap up the year with a reflection on our phenomenal growth. Thank you to our listeners around the globe, including those in the UK, Canada, Ireland, India, and Jamaica! This year we published over 1200 minutes of content over 33 episodes, and our followers increased 240%!

    Links we mentioned in the show:


    David Kessler and Brené on
    Grief and Finding Meaning, https://brenebrown.com/podcast/david-kessler-and-brene-on-grief-and-finding-meaning/ 
    If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. Admiral McRaven's life lessons, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jflUvxQLkgs

    This Caregiver Life is tough, and we appreciate each of you for sharing this journey with us. Best wishes to you and yours for Happy Holidays and a Bright 2021. - Mar & Jenn




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    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
11 Ratings

11 Ratings

tsgoyna ,

Solid Real Advice and Empathy

Mar and Jen go deep and keep it real in this fascinating podcast. Whether they are sharing their personal experiences as caregivers or are interviewing professionals or other caregivers, they keep their focus on the actionable steps caregivers can take to bolster their mental, physical, spiritual and financial skills to stay the course of caregiving and remain healthy and balanced. Whether you are a newcomer to caregiving or a veteran, their is support and valuable information in every episode.

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