Enjoying Your Company
Taking care of loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia isn’t easy. I am not a full-time caregiver now, but instead I am the carer of my 2 loved ones. We chat on the phone daily from their home where they have full-time caregivers on staff. But I know the tremendous worry that many caregivers feel when being faced with 24/7 caring for those whose cognitive function isn’t where it used to be.
It is hard to let go of the loved one’s cognitive abilities. Sometimes we are given the gift of full on focus for which I am ever grateful. Sometimes the lucidity floats in and out and sometimes it’s just not really there. It’s a hard road to travel for the patient with the disease. I know that once the turning point comes, it’s easier for all involved. Once the patient has crossed over to not realizing how much memory they have lost, it is a blessing as they find a sense of peace. It’s a good thing even though it is harder for the family. Not to say that either of my loved ones have fully gone from their minds. They have not. They are still here, hanging in there, daily. But the letting go of, ‘I think I’m losing my mind’ has finally happened and we are able to go on without their worry that they are losing their minds. It’s been a blessing really because the strife is diminished and that is good for them. For me, not so much, but then it’s not about me. It’s about the peace within them as I imagine how frustrating and hard it is to realize that you are losing your memory.
I’ve learned to simply enjoy their company. Yes, it is that simple. Take out the worry, the regret, the sadness of “I wish things were different” and just enjoy who they are, for who they are right in this present moment. For the next moment may be different and we can never tell the future.
But I have to be fair here. It is hard for carers and caregivers alike to converse, to interact and to find peace in this new reality. I read others’ blogs who have loved ones with memory issues and I understand. I want to hug them as much as I long to be hugged. Generally it’s hard when our loved ones aren’t the same as we knew them. Learning to shift our thinking is hard and many of us mourn the ones we knew before the memory loss. It’s a banner moment when we see glimpses of our loved one before the memory issues began.
Because for me, I mourn the loss of family. I call daily to speak with them and pray that they are doing well that day. I watch what I say and I listen for the subtle and sometimes not so subtle signs as to gauge how well they are doing cognitively in that moment. I err on the side of less reality is better, meaning I keep news that isn’t happy to myself. I don’t share it because in their world, any upset doesn’t serve them nor me. Occasionally I will venture to say something about another family member’s health which isn’t great at this point, but I always make sure that I do it in the mornings so that they are clearly thinking because many times, as the afternoon sun begins its descent, cognitive abilities do the same. Not always, but it happens.
I think it’s important to stay connected and the more giggles, jokes and memories that we can share, perhaps the longer they will know me, will stay connected with me and keep the disease descent further from our present moment. I know it’s a gamble because the disease will eventually run its course, plateau for a bit and then descend further, taking them further from me. But in the meantime, my will to keep them here, knowing me and each other is foremost in my heart and mind. It won’t be without a huge fight from me that Alzheimer’s and Dementia will take away my loved ones.
Because, as you know, I’m a lover and a fighter and I will fight for my loved ones because I love them with my whole heart. I know that those of you who have experienced these diseases with loved ones or even with yourself (I read your blogs), my heart envelopes you as well. It’s not a fair disease, but then there’s none that I can name that are fair to any of us. I know there’s no cure, but at least we can try to keep it at bay with a few of the medicines offered today.
And I can lay my head upon my pillow every night after my prayers and know that at least, today, they knew who I was, we laughed together, blew kisses into the phone to each other and we have my next visit to look forward to soon. At the end of the day, it was a very good day. We’ve got to be grateful for each and every little present moment that we have in this big ole world for we can’t control tomorrow and after all, as Scarlett said, “Tomorrow is another day.”