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This week I will be sharing five gems of truth each day. Most caregivers, I believe, evolve in the process of navigating this lengthy journey. By the time we reach the final steps, there is a sense of responsibility to impart what we have learned.
Herb has done just that, sharing from experience as his beautiful wife's caregiver for many years. Enjoy the wisdom he imparts in this relevant list of "rules" for caregivers to live by.
You are a world class special forces of caregivers... they should award you a Purple Heart!
Stress vs Humor
It's a funny thing (enjoy humor) so find ways to laugh and things to laugh about. Share them with other caregivers. Be funny. As the disease progresses, you will be amazed how funny you will become!
Routinely establish routine.
This is one of the scars we carry for not being perfect, or thinking that we were not perfect, caregivers.
It's a long road full of unwelcome changes. Most of us resist change. Learn to adjust often or suffer the consequences!
Logic and Reasoning
Logic left town and reasoning is packing his bags. We spent our lives becoming reasonable and logical. Let these old friends go! They do not exist in the Alzheimer’s world!
Remember: Send “remember” packing too! Never ask an Alzheimer’s victim: “Don’t you remember…….?”
Oh, the Repetition
OH, THE REPETITION! Oh, the repetition, Oh, the repetition!
Redirection and Fibbing
Redirection is your new best friend. Use it often! Also, Mom was wrong - it is okay to fib “therapeutically”. If they say, “The sky is green today.” You reply, “Oh, my, yes… and what a pretty shade of green!”
The Alzheimer’s Association
Run, don't walk, to the care and support folks! It’s free, so pick up the phone and start that conversation today.
The Support Group
This has been a lifesaver for countless folks and will be your lifesaver too! Attend regularly for six sessions before you decide not to return.
Whether for an hour, a day, or a week, you must recharge your batteries. Adult day care is incredible. Over time it became Herb’s favorite option on their journey.
The Memory Care Option
Although you may say you will care for your loved one at home, at the very least you must be prepared! Evaluate all the options now, just in case of an emergency.
Chemistry For Them
It is better to live through chemistry (legally prescribed medicine for your loved one), not chemical restraints.
Chemistry For You
You may achieve better living through chemistry as well. (legally prescribed medicine for you - anti-depressant and anti-anxiety)
Things to Avoid
Avoid large groups and loud, confusing, overstimulating venues.
Invite the family to walk in your shoes for a day. Better yet, for a weekend respite for you!
Give ‘Em Chores!
If your loved one wants to help, give them easy chores without expectations. It’s okay if it isn’t perfect. It’s okay even if it is flat out wrong. Say thanks and take the dirty dishes out of the refrigerator later!
The Good Day
When it happens, drop everything! Cancel everything and enjoy it! Live in the moment, but don’t set high expectations for tomorrow.
Let ‘Em Eat Cake
Who really cares? It’s their long last supper. (Judy would add: Let them eat dessert first if they want to and, by all means, let them share their cookies! Rules of mealtime etiquette are out the window!)
Implement activities for those with short attention spans. Also, activities for those with short attention spans! The Alzheimer’s Association has a list of them.
Life After Caregiving
It can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Learn to reject feelings of guilt and take good care of yourself!
Help Other Caregivers
Pass it forward! You are their best resource. You have the opportunity to be their hero!
Keep a Journal
Document your journey - especially the funny things! Share your stories with other caregivers.
Remember the Person
Focus on the individual, not the disease. We hate the disease and the process, but the victim is someone we will love forever!