“Balancing Loss and Connection” – a few notes, 12-10-14 neuropsychologist talk

A neuropsychologist spoke to the Palo Alto Parkinson’s support group meeting last Wednesday.  This neuropsychologist was recommended by Charmaine, one of our local CBD support group members.  Her family gained a great deal by working with this neuropsychologist over an extended period of time.

The neuropsychologist is Kyrstle Barrera, PhD; she’s a clinical neuropsychology postdoctoral fellow at the VA Palo Alto.  Her presentation last Wednesday was terrific.  She talked about “Balancing Loss and Connection” when coping with a neurodegenerative disease.  She will be establishing a private practice soon in the SF Bay Area (Palo Alto or Menlo Park, perhaps), and I hope more families (regardless of the neurodegenerative disease) can benefit from working with her.

Here are some notes I took last Wednesday.  Kyrstle did have a one-page handout, which I will type up and post separately.



“Balancing Loss and Connection”
Kyrstle Barrera, PhD
12-10-14 presentation to Palo Alto PD Support Group

Kyrstle advises those dealing with neurodegenerative disorders to consider three questions:
1- when do I feel the closest to my loved one?
2- when is this disease furthest from my mind?
3- when do I feel the most nourished?

She says that the answers to these questions should guide your decisions about where to spend your time.

One key goal is to create and maintain connections with others.  Connection is one of the few things that can fill up your fuel tank.  We should all spend more time with the people we feel connected to.

Kyrstle gave some specific suggestions:

* on your daily agenda, schedule in “fun”

* set alarms (on your cell phone, for example) to remind you to “have fun” or “maintain connections”

* take 5-10 minutes each night just before you go to bed to consider what you enjoyed doing that day and how you can do more of that

* say to your family member or friend “let’s give ourselves 10 minutes to just gripe and not offer any tips or suggestions”

* reminiscing with your family member or friend can be wonderful

She encourages everyone to consider therapy.  She notes that “it doesn’t hurt.”  How do you know if you need therapy?  People need therapy for emotional support.  Or they need therapy if they don’t believe they are handling situations in the right way.  Or they need therapy if others are not understanding them.