Do you ever long to escape all the complexity of caregiving? If you’re like me, simplicity sounds appealing at times, but it can also feel impossible to achieve or overwhelming to begin the process. With Alzheimer’s disease or dementia odd symptoms come and go, personalities, roles, and relationships change, and stress can mount with each passing day. How can a caregiver tap into a sense of peace along the way? Here are a few strategies that worked for other caregivers:
Accept not knowing.
Accept what you know now for what it is, and realize that you cannot change what has already happened. You cannot accurately predict what may happen in the future. But you can draw strength and breathe life into today by accepting the disease as it is without judgment.
Create Your Own Sacred Space.
A special chair, a sun porch, or a window seat can be the place you visit when you need to catch your breath. Keep a few favorite items near that space: a sacred statue, your own personal good luck charm, a framed quote or prayer that soothes you, or even worry beads or a stress ball to grip when you feel combustible. Sometimes, you may need to leave a volatile situation — just walk away (try not to stomp) and visit your safe space. Returning there again and again can direct your thoughts — spiritually — and guide you when you feel a deep sense of anger, anxiety or grief.
Carve Out Small Bits of Time to Revive.
Make it a daily practice to use whatever small amounts of time you can find during the day to dedicate to yourself. When your loved one becomes exhausted after his or her rehab visit or trip to the store, they will usually come home and fall asleep for a while. Take that time to go out on the back deck and sit in the sun, read or just take in the spring air and breathe. Using these small windows of time to listen to music, read poetry, stretch or listen to a guided imagery tape for relaxation will give you the energy you need to continue on.
Discover Your Mantra.
The words we tell ourselves have incredible power over our moods and behavior. Find the words that calm you and repeat them to yourself throughout the day when you feel anger, fear or frustration spinning out of control. A good one is the serenity prayer. It seems to cover all the bases for caregiving! Song lyrics work well too. Something short and sweet you can say over and over to yourself instead of the negative thoughts you replay in your mind.
Understand That Your Daily Routine of Providing Care is a Huge Gift.
Recognize that caring for another person you love may be the highest calling you have here on earth. You do matter! The simple things you do, the care you provide, and small gifts you offer — a listening ear, a connecting smile, a gentle touch — will promote healing, give comfort and enrich the life of the ones you love.
Ghandi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” so make a difference in the life of your loved one by being the best caregiver you can be. For additional support or help, call us at 561-588-4545.