Nourish, nurture and connect
Family or professional caregivers of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, please join us for an online retreat experience of self-care just for you. Our online retreats are free or by donation and offers techniques to reduce stress, increase patience and create a home self-care practice. You can register now for these offerings.
Our in-person retreats include mindfulness, meditation, gentle movement, music, art, horticultural therapies and other powerful wellness tools to help you revive and renew your own plan for wellness as the family caregiver.
We welcome professional caregivers in-person on a limited basis. If you are interested in enrolling your paid facility caregivers, we kindly ask that you send a maximum of two. Upon request, we can supplement what they learn after the retreat by coming to your facility and offering a wellness workshop— either fee-based or by donation on a sliding scale. We value and understand how imperative it is for all caregivers to receive this kind of care.
Email Melissa to book your customized workshop for professional caregivers.
"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." -Mike
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 is one day only.
"One of the Caregivers told me at the end of the day, 'I'm glad you suggested we sign up for 1-1 Yoga because I've never done Yoga and it was wonderful.' I told her she had Houston's finest right there guiding her.
You all are wonderful, and I am pleased that I have the opportunity to be a part of it all.”
MELISSA'S FAMILY STORY
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.