I’ve been a little off my game lately and not doing the writing I should have. Then, a lovely lady I know, reminded me the other day why I’m writing this blog: To help Caregivers. Her words were encouraging to me. Imagine that! I’m supposed to be encouraging others, and little did I realize, I was in need of some encouragement as well. Funny how life is, huh? We all need a little nudge now and then.
I have been working with my copy editor on my book (my memoir as a Caregiver) and one of the chapters I was reviewing brought up a time my mother was going through a transition in her dementia. The “not so very nice” side of her disease was beginning to come out. For those of you who are caregivers to someone with dementia, you know what I’m talking about.
You try your best to do what is right and pleasing for your loved one, only they don’t comprehend that and they lash out—at you. When that first happened to me I didn’t know how to act or respond. My feelings were so hurt. I wondered why my own mother would be doing this to me? I was only trying to help her.
I learned the hard way that what I thought was helping or pleasing my mother was not necessarily how she perceived it. I had to find another approach that worked for both of us. Everyone has to find what works best between you and who you’re caring for because all personalities are not created equal.
One time my mother accused me of “trying to put her away” because her doctor recommended a skilled nursing facility. Fortunately for her, and me, it turned out she did not need that level of care at that particular time.
It wasn’t the last time my mother would lash out at me; there were numerous other times. Don’t be surprised if your loved one accuses you of something that never happened. It might be as simple as them saying you never told them something (and you just did) to accusing you of throwing away something they felt was of value to them. Whatever happens between you and them, do not get into a confrontation by trying to defend yourself because you won’t win. Just empathize and say you’re sorry.
Many times throughout the years of my cargiving I felt like my heart was the target when hurtful things were said; like an arrow piercing through it. After many years, I thought I knew how to handle such outbursts. I became a little over confident and my vulneralbility must have shown through because I was caught off guard by hurtful words once again.
Don’t become discouraged if you have experienced any of the above. It’s easy to feel down and defeated. The energy level you need isn’t worth giving up on finding the right approach to dealing with such situations. My solution was always prayer; it never failed me.
Just today I read an excerpt from Visual Theology by Tim Challies and Josh Byers that explained we all have a vocation in life. Some people have several vocations: moms/teacher, dads/accountant, teachers/mentor, pastors/husband, garbage collectors/volunteer, doctors/little league coach, caregivers/mom/daughter/son/husband/wife and more.
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. — 1 Corinthians 7:17
This instruction implies that God has made each of us uniquely and assigned to us unique lives with unique roles. Our responsibility before God is to understand the gifts, the skills, and the passions He has given us and to use those in fitting ways — in ways that do good to others and, in turn, bring glory to God. Excerpted from Visual Theology.
What a beautiful and eloquent way of stating that you and I were uniquely assigned the role as caregiver for our loved one! I don’t know about you, but for me that is the highest compliment a human being can be given. Once you realize this unique gift you’ve been given, you are better able to meet the challenges along your journey as a caregiver. I’m not saying it will be easy, but it is comforting to know who has your back!