Strategies for caregivers to help cope with daily struggles
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the things which you think you cannot do. - Eleanor Roosevelt
Many readers know I often write about my experiences at Memory Matters. As a dementia care specialist, I facilitate support groups and meet with families individually. I feel blessed to be able to do this work that inspires me and hopefully helps others.
Not long ago I wrote an article about caregivers knowing the difference between "can't" and "won't" when referring to their loved one with dementia. For example: "She won't do anything anymore. She just sits and watches TV or follows me around. I am tired of it."
I want to say things that I should not, so I keep quiet. But here, I can say it for the benefit of all.
Let me assure you that your loved one does not follow you around to make you angry. He or she does not get up in the morning and set out to ruin your day.
One can decide either to be miserable in their role as a caregiver or learn about the disease and where to get support. It is a choice to try to be happy or be unhappy.
Your loved one does not have this choice. Their brain is broken. They are dependent on you to help them, to love them, to nourish them. Yes, you are only human and can get frustrated, angry, tired, or even wish that you could run away and leave all this behind.
But the reality is that this is your life. Accept it and do the best you can with the resources available. And there are plenty.
These are some of my suggestions for you to try:
On Nov. 16 from 4 to 5 p.m., Memory Matters will host a Candle Light event for caregivers, past and present, to remember and honor their loved ones. Call 843-842-6688 for more information.
Karen Doughtie is assistant director of Memory Matters, serving Bluffton and Hilton Head. firstname.lastname@example.org