Living With Dementia

Titus and his Great Gram!
Titus and his Great Gram!

All things considered, it could of been a lot worse.  The transition of moving my MIL to my home went very smoothly.  I took her out shopping and eating while hubby and the kids worked hard and recreated her apartment in my former master suite.  On bringing her home we just showed her, her new home.   She keeps forgetting where she lives and we have to bring her into her room over and over again.  Repeatedly, it is like she is seeing it for the first time and is happy with it and very thankful.

It is such a difficult thing  to be totally responsible for another person.  In some ways it is similar to having kids.  Only for them knowing my job is to help them move toward independence and with this situation, it progressively gets worse with more dependence.   I am having to make choices as to what clothes to bring or get rid of.  The hardest choice was to get rid of the dog, her forever companion. She has only asked about the dog once.  I know it would bring her great companionship and love, but when she only remembers her when she tucks her into bed and then forgets, it would not be worth it for me to have to care for a dog trained to not go outside by neglect.  Still, there is a great amount of guilt involved in making these momentous choices for another.

Over 50 million Americans provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member in any given year.  The stress of care-giving is not just physical.  The emotional toll of taking care of a loved one can be overpowering. It is emotionally taxing seeing a parent become incapable of handling his own needs.  Added to this would be seeing to the caregivers health needs and providing for other family members.  I am all too aware of yhr fact that to be an effective caregiver, it is essential to take care of my self.  So, how can we stay healthy- emotionally and physically to continue on this massive task??   Here are a few things I have decided to put in place.  If you have additional suggestions, please let me know.

  • Stay Thankful-— Every morning and evening I will remind myself of what I am thankful for.  Making lists and adding to this list.  During the day I will continually express thanks to those who are helpful to me.
  • Sense of Humor-— Just changing my accent and talking with a funny accent can lift the mood of the room and provide stress relief.  When I was helping to care for my mom in hospice, I would often clean the bathroom speaking like a Swedish maid, or southern drawls work well for cooking.  Today I was doing laundry for my mother in law and I helped her fold and put them away herself, telling her I would just take them and put them in my closet if she didn’t.  Of course she can’t find her closet, so I have to show her where it is over and over.  I will play music that I find uplifting and fun.
  • Stay away from denial— I admit I have a tendency to just put my head down and do what needs to be done.  Then when it is over with, I totally wig out.  I have to be very careful be aware of how I am doing.  I will ask others to notice and tell me when they hear tension in my voice or see my reacting in unhealthy ways.
  • Don’t be a Martyr-— I will utilize whatever help is available.  Home health nurses, friends, adult day care all will be getting calls from me.  I will care for myself getting enough sleep, working out, swimming every day, and going out with friends and family.  When it becomes impossible for me to do these things, I will have to rethink this plan.  Thankfully I love my work and that will be a great getaway for me!!
  • Deal with Stress-— It is not the stressful events in my life as much as it is how I perceive and respond tho them.  Thankfully I have been trained in a whole slew of techniques for this and use them with others all the  time.  This will be a great laboratory to know first hand which techniques are most helpful for this kind of stress in my life.

This will not be the last you hear about this huge life altering shift in my life.  If you have any great inights,I am all ears.  It will be a wonderful growing season!!

Peace with the Past, Present in the Now and Excited about the Future!!

Sonja

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5 thoughts on “Living With Dementia

  1. All great tips for caregivers. Another easily overlooked one is to make time for you and your family. It’s very important that you break away to care for yourself. Also important to make time for your other loved ones that may need you as well, maybe just not to the same degree as MIL. ((Hugs)) to you Sonja!!

  2. If you start to feel the R word (resentment), it’s a signal. You are very resourceful by your training. But remember that God is truly your Resource! You might proactively ask Him each morning, or the night before, how He wants to be your resource today/tomorrow. Or what aspect of caring for your MIL that you need to be aware of most that day, or what to look out for each day? For me, dealing w/ chronic and debilitating pain, my best weapon is one you mentioned, Sonja. It’s a constant attitude of gratitude and thankfulness. Best wishes and prayers for this journey. I’m sure that God is pleased w/ the love and care you and Clay are giving. Just keep checking in w/ each other w/ how this whole effort is going. And involve your son to some extent. It should develop some great qualities in him if not overdone.

    1. Yes, great tips. It is important to remember I am not alone. The creator of the universe and savior of my soul is in it with me. My kids have been amazing! And yes a perfect opportunity for a teen to get out of himself. Blessings to you!

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