We really are all in this together.
Last week I had the privilege of gathering with a group of other caregivers at a Caregiver Support Workshop called “In My Shoes”. It was an amazing event complete with speakers and booths with information and resources.
What struck me the most at the event was a sense of what Anne of Green Gables used to call a “kindred spirit” that existed between the other caregivers and myself. Without even knowing each other, a feeling of intimacy and understanding developed as soon as the words, “My husband has Alzheimer’s” or the exchange of teary glances from two sisters supporting their mother were shared. We really are all in this together.
I’m sure there are people who find it odd that I share so openly private family matters. Most of us were raised not to do so. But, there is great comfort and strength given and received when we share with someone who knows what it feels like to be “in our shoes.”
Let’s be honest, this caregiving gig can be an ugly thing. We see our spouses and parents fade into a shell of what they used to be. Often their behaviours are dangerous, difficult and embarrassing. If you are the lone ranger type, I encourage you to reach out to someone who is walking the same path as you. Find a support group; they are full of people – just like you, whose lives have been derailed by dementia and loss. These people have found resources, ideas and ways to cope a little better and are there to make your load lighter. Contact your local Alzheimer’s Society, your local community care supports and VON for Respite. You’ll be glad you did. You are not alone.
Finally, here is a cute little gift our local Alzheimer’s Society of BHQ gave the workshop participants last week. It is called “The Caregiver’s Tool Kit”. In it is everything you need to be a caregiver and I doubt they’d mind me sharing it:
The Caregiver’s Tool Kit
Cotton Ball: A reminder that no one ever died of dust bunny disease. Quit feeling guilty for what’s left undone.
Safety Pin: To hold yourself together on frazzled days.
Candle: To remind you to let your light shine, but burn it only at one end.
Rubber Band: For life’s boo-boo’s. Mistakes are essential for learning to live to one’s potential but look for the hidden lessons.
Outlet Protectors: Don’t let all your energy drain out when you feel frustrated. Plug the leak with a brief break.
Perspective Adjusters: These look and taste like chocolate kisses, but they are molehills; don’t make them into mountains.
Eraser: For when you want to change your mind. Sometimes second thoughts are second chances.
Paper Clip: Plans that are neither glued nor stapled are easier to re-think. Be willing to change.