If you are one of the 16 Million in the U.S. caring for a loved one with dementia, then you know that caring for someone with any form of this disease creates profound life changes. So, too, does caregiving for loved ones with any number of other circumstances where they can no longer manage on their own. The latest research says that close to 60 Million of us play a caregiving role in our country today.
November is a well-deserved month of recognition for the selfless role you have shouldered.
If you know someone who cares for a loved one give them a high-five, a pat on the back, a hearty thank you, or better yet, give of yourself. Give them a few hours respite, time to themselves to get a haircut, to wander through a park, to go to an exercise class, or time to just plain sit, read, and think, knowing that you have picked up the caregiving ball, if only for a brief time.
I recently returned from a second month spending nearly half time at my sister and brother-in law’s home in the Midwest where we filled our days and through the nights juggling the compulsive new Lewy Body Dementia-driven behaviors of my dear 93-year-old Mom.
I used to care for Mom here in Florida, until we evacuated our hometown during Hurricane Irma. But for a year now, she has lived in a memory care facility a few miles from where my oldest sister and her family reside. When Mom fell in September, cracking her pelvis in two places, the benefits of Mom living close to my sister, who is a nurse were clearly obvious.
My sister, with some assistance from the rest of us siblings, navigated Mom through two hospital stays and weeks in a rehab facility, then two weeks in my sister’s home.
( I know, Mom looks good for a 93-year old who just went through all that… doesn’t she!)
Finally, after some harrowing weeks, Mom’s situation stabilized, and we were able to move her back to her memory care apartment where, thankfully, the staff was far more equipped to handle Mom’s newly developed idiosyncrasies than we were. (She began to wander compulsively from room to room, from couch, to bed, to couch, and back again, over and over and over every 2 – 3 minutes.)
Those two week stints in Indiana reminded me how important it is for siblings and other relatives to recognize the sacrifices that caregivers make to ensure the well-being of their loved ones. And they reminded me how important the little things are.
- Grocery shopping and cooking a meal for the family,
- Taking a night shift sleeping on a cot in your loved one’s room to quell night terrors,
- Preparing your loved one’s lunch
- Helping with your loved one’s shower
Small gestures can give the primary caregiver a vital breather, allowing them to take time for a little self-care, something essential to set each day on a positive note. Caring for one with dementia-based delusions is definitely not a one person job.
What have you found is most helpful to caregivers you know, or to you as you care for others in your life? Let’s share our strategies of support so that we don’t have to walk alone.
…Finding Light in Our Second Life
About Kathy Flora
Kathy Flora is a Nationally Certified Career Counselor and Master Career Coach. She began this work at Purdue University in College Placement. Through successive job changes, she’s worked as a consultant, a business executive, organization development and job search trainer, an elected State Representative in New Hampshire, an HR representative at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, and finally as a leadership program manager in an Intelligence Community agency in the federal service in Washington D. C. and Tampa, Florida.
She is a mom, a grandma, a daughter, a sister, a friend and Jim’s loving wife, a political junkie, public speaker, novice hiker, and an avid cyclist. She and Jim live in Bradenton, FL, with an inspiring view of the sunsets over the marsh along the Manatee River in a neighborhood with plenty of walking trails and biking paths. Those paths are where she finds her bliss nearly every morning before starting the rest of her day.
This is her first book, and it was a surprise even to her since she sat down to write on an entirely different topic. But as you may have noticed, God had other plans.