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"Because of our shared challenges and heartache, we have become kindred spirits."
Stone Benches: Understanding the Invisible Footprints of Dementia
As I speak to groups and meet others on this journey, there is a knowing look we inevitably exchange. In an instant, strangers transform into friends we have seemingly known a lifetime. By merely speaking the words, "My loved one has Alzheimer's disease" a window to a million truths is opened.
I am keenly aware of their pain, the fear and sorrow they have experienced, the overwhelming challenges they face. From the moment we connect as caregivers of a loved one affected by some form of dementia, we become kindred spirits on a journey we did not sign up for; one we are unable to escape.
Most of my posts are committed to bringing the light of understanding to this mysterious disease. I seek to encourage us all to lay down our expectations and enjoy our loved ones right where they are. Each day we have the chance to discover a Stone Bench moment, those tangible memory making opportunities to join their world.
However, this is impossible to do without first investing in someone else - the most overlooked part of this caregiving equation - you. We cannot spread light and joy in our loved one's world without first gathering it for ourselves. This will require intentional planning, as well as a heaping amount of grace required to loosen our grip. Following are the most important steps in gathering sunshine.
Allow others to help.
Whether it be another family member, a neighbor, friend, or professional facility, it is essential to allow others to help. We may be exceptional caregivers, but are often less than gracious care-receivers. It is essential to get away on a regular basis from the enormous responsibilities this disease demands. Our loved ones are counting on us to light their world and this means taking time for ourselves!
Join a support group.
Admittedly, it sounds ludicrous to suggest another responsibility be added to our list of things to do. We do not have to be reminded time is now a precious commodity. However, support groups offer an abundance of understanding and helpful advice. The friendships found there will light the way through this journey.
Continue to take time for things you enjoy.
Usually the activities we enjoy are the first to go. Even if, by some chance, we find the time, often we feel too emotionally and physically drained to participate. A simple walk will clear the mind and lift our spirits. Physical activities have the added benefit of boosting energy.
Stay connected to the source of the light.
We cannot afford to neglect the essence of our well being. Seeking wisdom from our Creator and allowing Him to light our path is imperative. This is where the brightest rays are found. Trust Him to light even the darkest days in this journey.
"The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory." Isaiah 60:19
Those of us walking this road know this is all not as easy as it sounds. However, it is essential we make a commitment to ourselves early-on. Our path will become dark quite quickly if we neglect our well-being.
Carve out some time for yourself in the next few days, connect with others who are on this journey, and continue to do things which bring enjoyment and health to your life. Gather sunlight and encouragement to light the way. Your loved one will be glad you did!
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#Dementia #Caregivers #Loss #AlzFamilies #MemoryCare #GatheringSunshine