NOURISH, NURTURE & CONNECT
Join us for a full day retreat for family caregivers of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Learn techniques to reduce stress and create a home self-care practice including yoga, meditation, and other powerful wellness tools.
Melissa Smith-Wilkinson, founder of the Caregivers Retreat shares her story:
My stepmother suffered from Early On-set Alzheimer’s disease, and my father was her caretaker for more than a decade. Watching him and the toll it took on his physical and mental health was tremendous. Read more about my stepmom, Marcee, here. It has inspired me to do something about it by offering what I can. I have been a health and yoga professional for more than 25 years and teaching yoga for the past 19. I offer worldwide retreats and yoga teacher trainings focusing on yoga therapy and restorative yoga which as prepared me to offer a retreat specifically dedicated to the needs of caregivers. Scroll down to see some of what others are saying about the retreat.
It’s been my dream to create a retreat for caregivers and offer mindfulness tools and options for reducing stress and anxiety for themselves and for them to also utilize with their loved ones with the disease. We began in Houston offering annual retreats in 2015. In Calgary in 2017 and in Santa Fe in 2020. In 2019, we became a registered nonprofit with 501c3 status.
The retreat is for the family caregiver and will be one day only.
"What a day! The yoga. The classes. The walk. The food. Everything! The best part is after spending the day with your program I have had the best sleep in as long as I can imagine. I was ready for bed about 8 p.m. and didn't get up until 6 a.m. and that was when I was awaken by a closing alert due to the storm.”
"Gratitude and love to all of you wonderful volunteers who came out on Sunday! It was just a perfect storm of love, compassion, and connection with the deserving caregivers that attended! I feel so blessed to have been able to be a part of this event. I had an opportunity to share lots of smiles-and a few tears- with my lovely caregiver, and it was SO special to me.......and connecting with friends, both old and new was so humbling and inspiring at the same time. Thank you Melissa Smith for bringing us all together for this event! My heart is smiling, just remembering moments from the day!”
"One of the Care Givers (Care Receivers) told me at the end of the day "I am glad you suggested we sign up for the one on one Yoga because I have never done Yoga, and it was wonderful". I told her "you had Houston's finest right there guiding you." You all are wonderful, and I am pleased that I have the opportunity to be a part of it all.”
" I’ve never had a volunteering experience where I felt so nourished, so cared for and so refreshed at the end of the day! I was happy to help, but really didn’t expect to receive so much from the experience. Met so many good people, learned a lot, gained a new perspective on aging and was simply reminded of how good it feels to be a part of something where people are simply experiencing support and the company of others as we all take time to care for ourselves. Not to mention that all your organizing was done with such heart and skill and generosity.”
I had an opportunity to visit my step-mother, Marcee Wallace, in 2014. My father and I sat briefly, holding her hands and with tears were amazed at her alertness just that day. At the end, she was no longer coherent in speech, unable to feed herself, and sleeping during the day, among many other things. However, my memory of her laughter and her protective friendship keeps her alive for me.
Taking one hand and softly speaking to her, he looked gently into her cloudy blue eyes and whispered to me, "she looks beautiful. She looks beautiful to me.”
This is the most tender memory I hold of my father just before we placed his wife into full time care for early on set Alzheimer’s Disease. A heart wrenching decision to finally let go of the notion that he can care for her well enough at home and to seek extra help was prompted by the realization that she no longer recognizes him, us, or anyone.
My father said to me, if there is a heaven, surely there is a place for her there. To have had this disease on earth must mean something greater
is waiting for her. I have to believe
this, too. The theft of the later half of her life is unfathomable. I think until you have experienced it, it’s hard to comprehend how your loved one dies a little more each day. A part of her memory, personality and character disappears little by little. Making the grief a daily ritual for my father.
"The amount of work performed by informal caregivers (loved ones/family) is astonishing. On average, they devote 19 hours a week to caregiving duties, the CMAJ editorial says, with one in 10 informal caregivers putting in more than 30 hours a week. " Dr. Brian Goldman
Every 67 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s Disease. Even more shocking, in her 60s, a woman's estimated lifetime risk for developing Alzheimer's is 1 in 6. For breast cancer it is 1 in 11. Chances are you know someone who is grappling with this even now, just as we are. Know that you are not alone. You are most assuredly not alone. My hope is that you will help us spread the word for this day long retreat into wellness and self care for caregiver’s.