Last weekend, I enjoyed an opportunity to present the keynote at the 9th Annual Texas Face to Face Caregiver Festival where 350 caregivers and even some of their loved ones gathered for a day of rejuvenation, respite, and renewal.
We’re FORTUNATE, today.
Yesterday, we didn’t understand caregiving for people with dementia.
In fact, professionals are meeting with tribal leaders to help raise their awareness of dementia as a disease and not a possession by evil spirits, which could mean removal from the tribe. Even here in the U.S. we’d remove people from their homes and communities and place them in insane asylums and sanitariums, years ago. Today, we have more dignified options for care such as in-home care, adult day services, residential care, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing care, and even hospice.
Today, we’re taking steps to reduce the stigma.
Although, it’s no easier to deal with a loved one who experiences memory loss, disorientation, and hallucinations, we are raising awareness. Through educational initiatives like Texas Face to Face in partnership with the Corpus Christi’s innovative Parks and Recreation Department, caregivers have many opportunities. Dr. Nestor Praderio, geriatric psychiatrist, leads monthly support groups. Each year, he hosts the Face to Face caregiver festival for hundreds at the America Bank Center of Corpus Christi with a nice view across the bay.
Sometimes, as caregivers, the stresses grow so great, we need to finally heed the 100th call to take a respite; otherwise, we may do something that we’ll regret resulting in a state-mandated vacation. And the gated communities offered across our nation (i.e., prisons) do not provide desirable respite options. Besides, we don’t even know who our room (cell) mate might be!
Step away and take a five-minute respite.
To better manage self-care and care for your loved one here are three caregiver tips:
- Learn as much as you can about your loved one’s disease or illness so you know what to expect. Otherwise, you’re driving blind in a demo derby.
- Finding the JOY through the hardships. Know that the joys get smaller and smaller.
- And most importantly, my Diamond Tip for Caregivers that goes beyond the Golden Rule: Care for your loved one the way you would want to be cared for IF you were living with the same disease.
Sometimes, we pick up a grain of sand and end up with responsibility for the whole beach, my father’s attorney explained as I lamented on how much more there was to caregiving than I expected. I’ve realized that I actually inherited that whole beach with all the grains of sands representing the relationships I’ve had over the years. That’s a gift worth keeping.
The CHOICE is ours when we find ourselves riding the roller coaster of caregiving. We can feel depressed or learn as much as we can about the disease to know what to expect, take respite, and find the joy as we raise our hands and shout, Weeeeeeee!