“There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.”

– W. Clement Stone

I have been working with a caregiver – let’s call her Ann – for about three years. When Ann first came to Memory Matters with her husband, she was so positive, so effervescent.

She always had a peaceful aura, engaged other caregivers and seemed to give them hope. She enjoyed life’s simple pleasures, having an ice cream cone with her husband, taking a walk, or sharing a joke.

Secretly I wanted to be her. I wanted her inner beauty.

Two years later, she is like a different person; she is resentful about being a caregiver, angry, abrupt, and she openly complains about most anything.

What happened to her? How can she regain some of her happiness?

Just a few weeks ago Ann said she was ready to run away. This really discouraged me and left me thinking about what Memory Matters could do to help her regain some sense of happiness.

We could offer support, resources, help her with arrangements for respite care to allow some time for her to recharge. Maybe her husband could attend the day program more often.

But what would really help Ann? The answer? Only Ann can really help Ann.

Is caregiving for someone with dementia easy? No. Life gives us lemons, and we have to learn to make lemonade, lemon bars, lemon pound cake – heck, anything with lemons.

And again, it all comes back to attitude.

Let’s end by reflecting on these encouraging words by Charles Swindoll:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do.

“It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.

“We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…

“I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”

If you need Memory Matters, call and speak with one of our dementia care specialists. Maybe, just maybe, we can help improve your attitude as a caregiver. Call us at 843-842-6688 or visit our website www.memory-matters.org.

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