Your life is your garden, your thoughts are the seeds. If your life isn’t awesome, you’ve been watering weeds. – Terry Prince

Why is it that some caregivers are able to accept that their loved one has Alzheimer’s disease and some will never accept it?

Some caregivers are able to really understand the disease and learn to live “in the moment” with their loved one. These caregivers still enjoy time with their family members, they still try to laugh, go on outings, and – as much as possible – understand that this is their “new normal.”

Is it easy? No. But is it easier than fighting every little battle? Yes.

Twice a month, Memory Matters hosts a get-together for caregivers and participants. The group has fun doing activities much like we do in our daily program such as art, music and trivia. Afterwards, all enjoy a light dinner.

Recently, the group enjoyed an art project. Caregivers were able to see firsthand how talented their loved ones are and how working on a group project was great for socializing.

About half the caregivers enjoyed this time and worked with their partner to create a beautiful collage.

The other half was too busy telling their loved one how to do it, and in doing so, caused frustration for their loved one.

If you want to have a better life with your loved one, then it is up to you to create a positive environment and atmosphere. A few things that caregivers should avoid are trying to explain everything or trying to make them do something they do not want to do.

In doing this, your loved one becomes upset, then you become upset, then an argument ensues. Would it not be easier to stop blaming your loved one for things they cannot do and start accepting what they can do?

A caregiver recently shared with me that the most difficult part of the day for her was the morning. She would go wake her husband, start barking orders at him to get dressed, eat, and brush his teeth, blah, blah, blah.

Inevitably, within minutes of her husband being up, they were going at it, yelling, blaming and crying. Something had to change.

Her new approach is to wake him up with a smile and hug, listen to their favorite music, and offer reassurance. She explained that her positive behavior was contagious, and over time he mirrored this positive attitude.

She discovered how to think positive, feel positive, how to take positive actions.

Some of you will say or think, “I can’t do that with my loved one. We are different.” Thinking those negative thoughts will ensure you live a life filled with burden.

I would recommend reading “Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s” by Joanne Koening Coste; “Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care” by Virginia Bell and David Troxel, and “Creating Moments of Joy” by Jolene Brackey.

For more information contact Memory Matters at 843-842-6688.

Karen Doughtie is assistant director of Memory Matters, serving Bluffton and Hilton Head. karen@memory-matters.org