Reflections from the Iris Respite House Healing Gardens

October 2022

The kids are back in school, I can hear them when I’m working in the garden. Their voices mark time in my workday, while the plants mark time in the garden. It’s an autumn garden now, alive with purple beautyberry, dahlias, mums, and autumn joy. All summer, nature and the gardens give abundantly: we have the sun until 9, flowers give us show after show, and the pollinators float around in front of our eyes. I can feel Mother Nature retracting some of that. As the plants start to die back, and darkness creeps in earlier, chasing me home at the end of the day, I can’t help but tug back against her, but she always wins.

In the past month, 3 people, on separate occasions, have turned to me within the first fifteen minutes of experiencing the Hope Grows gardens for the first time and said, “this is very relaxing,” or “this is very therapeutic.” The look in their eyes softened, they dropped their shoulders, smiled a little, and exhaled an unexpected, but welcome, sigh. The gardens seemed to make them feel a little safer than when they got out of the car. I’m glad. Because, at those moments, my mind was definitely not relaxed. I was actually completely focused on work, cutting a couple of nice bouquets or preparing to direct volunteers. I claim no credit for the biophilic effect, except maybe whatever regular upkeep I’ve been able to do on the plants.

One of my regular volunteers last year would always tell me that the garden helped her clear her head after work. I couldn’t claim credit there either, as I was usually focused on whatever I needed her help with. This has all gotten me thinking about the therapeutic nature of gardens, how to go about creating them, and where humans fit in. The plants can’t plant themselves, but once in the right place, with the right care, they can provide support and healing, without me even telling them to. They just do, reaching out like a great piece of music that soothes the soul-to everyone. Just like in music, they work off each other, joining with one another in harmony to create a stronger sense of peace and healing. I’ve said this before, but there is a greater intelligence at work in the gardens, one that doesn’t require me to turn it on every time someone walks into the garden that needs healing or peace. It’s very gentle, and you won’t find it in every garden. Watching the gardens help people like that makes me want to become a better garden caregiver, as it is undeniable that these gardens are themselves providing care for the caregiver.

Botanical of the Month: October

Plant: Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Doterra Essential Oil: Ginger

Rishi tea: Masala Chai

The healing plant for October is our old friend ginger, a plant that has been relied upon for its healing properties for over 5000 years. Known for its abilities to quell nausea, soothe inflammation and assuage some cold and flu symptoms, it lives into its meaning as a symbol of strength. For centuries, seaman have been given ginger to chew for seasickness. I was once offered candied ginger by a kind soul seated next to me on an airplane, while I was dealing with a bad bout of airsickness and it worked. Fresh ginger tea is usually on my nightstand whenever I’m in bed with a cold. And many arthritis sufferers contend that regularly including fresh ginger in their diet helps ease some of their pain and inflammation. In each of these situations, though the ailments affect different parts of the body, it’s ginger that provides a link to feeling safer and stronger. Nausea is settled, cold symptoms are soothed, and arthritis pain is managed, all in a day’s work. Red ginger, Zingiber officinale’s fiery cousin, grown for its beautiful red flower, actually symbolizes safety. The stronger and healthier we are, the safer we feel. Some folklore even suggests carrying ginger with you as a protection from negativity or putting it under your pillow to guard against bad dreams.

Native to tropical Asia, ginger is hardy in zones 9-11. Folklore says to plant one in your yard to attract prosperity, but in our area, zone 6b, you would have to grow it in a pot if you wanted it to survive year-round. The name Zingiber originates from the Sanskrit word “srngaveram,” meaning “horn body,” referring to the antler shape of the rhizomes, fleshy underground stems that are often mistaken for roots. It’s there that ginger’s medicine is found, including the essential oil.

The rhizomes can be peeled and used fresh (sliced or grated), dried, pickled, preserved, ground, crystalized or candied. Ginger is one of the most popular culinary spices worldwide, especially in Asian and Indian dishes, where it’s used daily, as a staple spice, in curries, stews, gravies, soups, meat dishes and more. This includes being one of the main ingredients in the aromatic Indian tea “Masala chai,” our Rishi tea of the month. And, alongside garlic and green onion, ginger is a member of the “holy trinity” of Chinese cooking. In American fare, however, you’re more likely to find it in baking, holiday cookies, breads and ginger ale. As for me, I love ginger tea, made from chunks of fresh ginger, cinnamon and cloves. I find safety in its strength. If you would like the recipe, reach out to me at

Can I Get Paid to Care for My Disabled Child?

While providing 24/7 caregiving to a disabled child is beneficial to the child, it can take a financial toll on the caregiver. Many might feel guilty about seeking caregiver pay, but they shouldn’t. There are many resources available to help them because others understand the value of what they do.

Many government agencies offer alternatives for those seeking caregiver pay. Lawmakers created these programs out of recognition that caregivers provide an invaluable service to children with special needs. While it’s done out of love, financial support can make the commitment to caregiving easier to manage.

Much like compensation for parent caregiving, getting paid to care for your disabled child allows you to keep doing what you know is the right thing for your son or daughter.

The Danger of Caregiver Burnout

Even the most loving caregivers run the risk of caregiver burnout if they don’t receive emotional and financial support. It’s an issue that impacts many caregivers. Caregiver burnout can change the caregiver’s attitude from positive to negative. They may also experience anxiety, stress, fatigue and even depression.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Burnout can occur when caregivers don’t get the help they need, or if they try to do more than they are able, physically or financially.” Financial support can provide a boost, helping caregivers avoid burnout and the stress of having to stretch their finances in order to provide care for their disabled child.

Improving Mental Health Through Gardening

Some Caregiver Statistics

An estimated 14 percent of the 43.5 million caregivers in the United States care for their own children. On average, these caregivers spend 13 days per month on shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, and administering medication. They spend six days per month on feeding, dressing, grooming, walking, bathing, and other duties for their loved one. They also spend 13 hours per month researching care services, information on disease, coordinating doctor visits or managing financial matters.

That’s a full-time job. Just seeing the average amount of time spent on these duties should be enough to dispel any lingering doubts about whether caregiver pay is deserved by those who care for their own disabled child.

Sources of Caregiver Pay

The first step to finding out if you can get paid to care for your disabled child involves assessing the level of assistance provided to the child every day. This includes the cost of that assistance as well as the details of what the caregiver does each day. 

With this information in hand, caregivers can look for financial support from a variety of sources. Keep in mind that what you can receive in caregiver pay depends on a wide variety of factors. They include your other income, your child’s condition, the age of the child and where you live.

State-Level Support

The first place to start is in your own state. Not every state has a program that offers caregiver pay, but some do. And within those that do, payment may be limited to only caregivers who provide care for minor children. But the only way to find out is go online and see if your state offers caregiver pay.

Supplemental Social Security

Through the Supplemental Social Security program, the federal government makes cash payments to disabled children, adults and those 65 and older. Parents who provide caregiving to their disabled child may also be eligible for payments.


If your child qualifies for Medicare, then the government-funded healthcare plan may also cover some services that will help offset the cost of care for your child. That includes, in some situations, Home Health Services.


Medicaid typically doesn’t cover direct caregiving costs. However, it’s possible you may qualify for a home and community-based service waiver (HCBS Waiver). With this waiver, it’s possible the state will authorize payments for home services to certain types of people, including homes with technology-dependent children and individuals with intellectual disabilities.


If your disabled child is an adult and a veteran, they may qualify for the Veterans Directed Care program. That program financially supports veterans, giving them the budget to manage the cost of services. They also can hire whomever they wish to provide those services, including relatives. The first step to finding support is knowing it is there. By searching for more information on these programs, parents can find out if they can get paid to care for their disabled child. It’s worth pursuing so that you can avoid burnout and continue to afford to give your child the care they need.

Virtual Online Caregiver Support