Remember–Super Heroes Are NOT Real People

The gradual losses experienced by caregivers can lead to sadness, depression, anger, guilt, sleeplessness and other physical and emotional problems. Family Caregiver Alliance Site

Caregivers are frequently referred to as heroes, even super-heroes. But, they aren’t. Caregivers are not super-human or intended to be heroes. They are simply human beings doing their best to take care of someone they love whose brain is not working properly. Perhaps they may wish they had super powers or mystical abilities but to stay sane they must acknowledge that they can’t fix all the challenges that accompany a dementia diagnosis.

The Family Caregiver Alliance recommends that a caregiver identify her losses, her feelings about the losses, and her corresponding grief. The Alliance also recommends keeping a journal, attending a support group, and doing relaxation exercises. If you’re a caregiver, my heart goes out to you as you deal with the challenges you face.

Affirmation: I take care of myself as I take care of another.

Coaching questions: Whether you are a caregiver or not, in what ways do you try to be a super-hero? How’s that working for you? If you are a caregiver, what do you do to take care of yourself? What else do you need to do to remain healthy?

paul-stickman-P3ePH4bnbcs-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Paul Stickman on Unsplash

Tips For Caregivers From A Motherless Daughter

Alzheimer’s SUCKS!☹😭 Robyn, motherless daughter

I met Robyn in a Alzheimer’s on-line support group. I’m not a caregiver but I’m in the group to offer support to those who are. In her final post, Robyn offered some great advice. Family members are frequently the best experts. 

Final post 💜….. (written by Robyn)

I’d  like to thank all in this group, including administrators. This group pulled me up when I couldn’t. My Mom, Terry, had Alzheimer’s. She passed  2/12/17. I stayed in this group after she passed to “pay it forward. ” For those just starting this journey, I would like to share a bit of advice from MY point of view. 

1) U are not “less than” if u put ur L.O. in a nursing home. 

2)  The only medication my mom had was her baby doll, with whom she was buried. It gave her a “purpose.” Buy one!

3)  Get yourself educated about the disease as early as possible. If I had learned earlier, I would not have tried to reason with my mother.

4) Live in their world.

5) Feeding tubes only prolong the agony. 

6) When death is near, their loved ones from beyond come to take them. I was not there when my mother passed but I believe that she was not alone😔.

7)  If you are raising children, put them 1st. Your loved one would want that. I was a single mother sandwiched between my son and my mother. I did the best I could.

8)  And finally, to those who are just starting this journey…God bless you. 💜💜💜💜💜💜

ps…Alzheimer’s SUCKS!☹😭

Affirmation: I learn from others’ experiences.

Coaching questions: What advice would you give others based on your life experiences? How will you get your message out so, like Robyn, you too can make a difference? 

 

tomasz-sroka-CKnTmPiTDMs-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Tomasz Sroka on Unsplash

Take a Moment to Appreciate Your Brain

Forgetfulness is a form of freedom. Kahill Gibran, Lebanese-American writer, poet.

How often do we say, I forgot….the keys, the sweater, the name, the birthday, the number? For most of us of a certain age, some forgetfulness is routine. But what about those whose past has slipped away, those whose last five minutes are gone? 

As I interviewed daughters for my book on mother loss, I found it particularly heart-rending when I talked to daughters who are losing or have lost their mothers to Alzheimer’s disease. One woman said, “My mother is lost but not gone.” This mother has forgotten her daughter and everyone else who was important to her yet she is still alive and may live for many more years. One daughter’s story exemplified Gibran’s quote. She said, “My mother used to have great anxiety and worry. As a result, she was often angry and depressed. Now, because of her dementia, she is free of worry and is experiencing joy.” This daughter knows her mother’s situation will worsen but in the meantime she is embracing the moment.

Perhaps you have lost or are losing your mother or other loved one to this terrible disease. I can’t imagine what pain you’re experiencing but I can stand beside you and support you through it.

Affirmation: My brain is alive and well.

Coaching question: What does your ability to think, remember, reason mean to you? Don’t take it for granted, be grateful.

Erasing the Footprints

Have you ever walked along a shoreline, only to have your footprints washed away? That’s what Alzheimer’s is like. The waves erase the marks we leave behind, all the sand castles. Some days are better than others. Pat Summitt, American women’s college basketball head coach who holds the record for the most career wins.

Every 66 seconds a new brain develops Alzheimer’s. Two-thirds of them belong to women. In addition, women make up two-thirds of all the caregivers caring for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s crisis. That’s why we must be at the heart of the solution. 

Much attention is given to the support of cancer and heart disease research which is necessary and important. We need to add Alzheimer’s to our list. If you’re a woman over sixty, you are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than you are breast cancer. Support the cause and support caregivers. It takes a community to stand up to this devastating disease.

Affirmation: I support Alzheimer’s research.

Coaching request:  If you’ve swept Alzheimer’s under the rug, take another look. Become informed, support the research and caregivers.

24/7 helpline – 1-800-272-3900

www.alz.org

Watch for your local walk

Don’t Forget About Me

I want to tell you how much I miss my mother. Bits of her are still there. I miss her most when I’m sitting across from her. Candy Crowley, CNN Chief Political Correspondent

Alzheimer’s is a cruel, cruel disease. The entire family suffers. Interviewing daughters who have lost or are losing their mothers to this horrible disease has taught me much. Early-onset Alzheimer’s and other early dementias are particular horrific.

 I had the honor to interview, Allie, a young daughter whose mother started showing signs of Alzheimer’s at age forty seven, Allie was eleven. This is a portion of a poem Allie wrote while she was her mother’s part-time caregiver for six years.

Allie is now a successful college student and her mother is in memory care. 

Don’t You Forget About Me

I cannot say the words, they are too hard to say

I rue the moment that I fade, the memories went away

I had a beautiful mom whose mind went one day

I had a mom who was too sick to stay

I blame the disease that stripped her that way

I hate that I won’t see her on my wedding day

Affirmation: I care about the suffering of others.

Coaching questions: If you are a care-giver of someone with dementia, in what ways are you taking care of yourself? How can you reach out to others for support? Write a poem or a letter or draw a picture to help release some of your emotions. 

 

Don’t Try To Be A Superhero

The gradual losses experienced by caregivers can lead to sadness, depression, anger, guilt, sleeplessness and other physical and emotional problems. Family Caregiver Alliance Site

Caregivers are frequently referred to as heroes, even super-heroes. But they aren’t. Caregivers are not super-human or intended to be super-heroes. They are simply human beings doing their best to take care of someone they love whose brain is not working properly. Perhaps they may wish they had super powers or mystical abilities but to stay sane they must acknowledge that they can’t fix all the challenges that accompany a dementia diagnosis.

The Family Caregiver Alliance recommends that a caregiver identify her losses, her feelings about the losses and her corresponding grief. The Alliance also recommends keeping a journal or gratitude journal, attending support groups, and doing relaxation exercises. 

Affirmation: I take care of myself as I take care of another.

Coaching questions: Whether you are a caregiver or not, in what ways do you try to be a super-hero? How’s that working for you? If you are a caregiver, in what ways do you take care of yourself?

 

Get Your Sleep!

A lot of people underestimate rest, especially sleeping and recovery time. Jason Day, Australian professional golfer.

Did you know that you have a brain-cleaning crew that works the night shift only? While you are sleeping, your brain’s glymnphatic system flushes cerebrospinal fluid through your gray matter to remove proteins that accumulate during the day.

If you deprive yourself of restorative sleep, waste begins to accumulate in the brain and causes a loss of neurological function. In the short term, this might mean poor memory or absent-mindedness. In the long term the trash buildup may be a contributing factor to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Sleep isn’t a luxury. 

Affirmation: I get good sleep.

Coaching questions: How much sleep do you get? How much do you need? What’s keeping you from getting the sleep you need for maximum health?