AUGUST 10, 2019 BY JAS 🍦
Contributor, Carol Craig, Guest Author
As we caregivers each walk our path alongside our loved one, we meet many people in various roles related to dementia. Some are related to teaching us, growing our knowledge base; some walk with us, going through similar situations; while others are identified with the care of those with memory loss.
Most we might otherwise never have known. The caregivers among this community are a special network of individuals, who with their loved ones, are walking beside us, just behind us or just in front of us, as our loved ones move along the memory loss spectrum, each at a different rate and each with a unique dementia disease(s).
There is common ground in experiencing some of the same new situations and frustrations that come with learning a new role. Few caregivers have specific training. Fewer know what to expect. It is refreshing to have caregivers close by who understand when unfamiliar behaviors arise, and even more, to know if they recognize a situation, they will respond without judgement. Support and friends who understand are essential lifelines to help maintain good mental health of any caregiver.
When we participated in the classes provided by the Alzheimer Society, we met so many compassionate caregivers and their loved ones . One such caregiver has walked the walk beside us, been in some similar situations, not always in the same classes but with similar responses to their experiences. Her words explain how she feels in her role.
I am pleased to introduce guest author and caregiver, Carol Craig, who shares her story, hoping others will feel a bit more familiar with their role.
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The Beginning of Life as a Caregiver
By Carol Craig
Ever since we got the diagnosis that my husband had mixed dementia -vascular and memory loss – two sayings my Mom always reminded me of was “God never gives you more than you can handle” and “there is always someone worse off than you are.” I also have a saying I use myself and that is “take one day at a time.” It is not always easy but for me it helps.
No one prepares themselves for being a caregiver for a loved one. If you feel your general practitioner does not seem to be concerned and you feel your loved one may have dementia, call the Alzheimer Society office in your area. They will help guide you as to how you can get an appointment with a specialist who can help you get a diagnosis.
The first and foremost thing that needs to be done as soon as you know, or even before, when you suspect he or she has dementia, is to ensure your financial items are in order. Be sure that you have a will as well as Power of Attorney in place, since lawyers will not allow you to change your will if they know your loved one is even in the early stages of dementia, as we experienced.
The Alzheimer Society has many programs that are great for both the person with dementia and the caregiver. Programs such as Creative Expressions and Minds in Motion. There is a Social and Coffee session once a month. They also have many educational programs. Some programs you both can attend; others are either for just the caregiver or just for the person with dementia. The caregiver programs often give you a chance to express how you are feeling, and quickly you realize that you are not alone on this challenging road that you are going down. You will learn what is ahead of you and how to navigate the system so you can get the assistance and help you will need.
We have been using the activity programs and education programs for over two years now and it has been good for my loved one and myself.
To be an effective caregiver, I believe you need to be educated. The Alzheimer Society is a good place to start. Caregivers help with things such as bathing, bathroom functions, feeding, grooming, taking medications, etc. We help our loved ones make and keep appointments with doctors, drive them places and be there for them. We try to make them have as easy a time as possible.
In summary, remember to enjoy the good times with your loved one and be patient with them. It is a lot to take in so take one day at a time and reach out to others for help as you must take care of yourself as well.
© 2019 Carol Craig
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As time goes on, we will continue to share stories from caregivers. Through their stories we will include various aspects of the role while helping bridge that gap between fear and acceptance.
Caregiving is unique in that we share the role purpose, but what happens in that role is rarely the same for anyone. It is the compassion and understanding that caregivers seem to possess that binds us. We welcome the new caregivers to the circle of care and encourage them to find support.
We look forward to seeing you here anytime you want to read about caregiving. If you have something to share about your journey, please submit a comment. As always, if you wish, sign up to receive notice of new posts in the box on the left or request in an email through the area at the bottom of the page on the left. You will have option to confirm your request after you send it.
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If you have not yet discovered support, the Accepting the Gift of Caregiving Support Group, may be of interest. (no cost to join or get questions.) It is a direct result of the book, “Is There Any Ice Cream?”
Read more about how you can start your local support group and receive Questions for Discovery to begin your support search at my author and book website.
Each day do something to make others smile and your heart sing! ~jas
Please add the book "Is There Any Ice Cream?" by Judith Allen Shone to your library's online 'Request A Book' formso they will order it and then others can read it. Thank you.
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“Beginning Life as a Caregiver” © 2019 Carol Craig and Judith Allen Shone
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