Tag Archive | appreciation

Gratitude for Being Able to Care for Our Loved Ones with Dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease

gratitude care dementia Alzheimer's Disease loveChoosing to be the caregiver for our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease is a conscious, deliberate, and willing choice of sacrifice, selflessness, and, ultimately, love.

However, in the big scheme of things, this choice, this action on our parts is our acknowledgement that we are fulfilling the circle of life for parents – and, in some cases, grandparents – who made conscious, deliberate, and willing choices to make sacrifices in their own lives, to act selflessly, to love unconditionally when they brought us into their lives.

Like many of our loved ones become, if they live long enough with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease, we were totally helpless, utterly dependent, and needed 24/7 care and attention, as well as love, soothing, and comfort.

There was no reticence, no holding back, no wavering in the commitment our loved ones made to us in those needy, weepy, sometimes trying, sometimes scary, sometimes exhausting beginning days, weeks, months, and years of our lives. 

thankfulness for being able to care for our loved onesInstead there was gratitude.

The sacrifices – and they made many, some deep and hard and of which we are totally unaware, sacrifices – along the way for us were worth whatever they were giving up.

The selflessness involved was never an issue because they loved us that much. It was always less about them than it was about us.

And that love was always unconditional. Even when we tried their patience without end. Even when we got into one thing after another, sometimes making little messes and sometimes making huge messes. Even when we unknowingly embarrassed them with unapologetic frequency in front of both strangers and friends. Even when we were, at best, a handful, and, at worst, out of control.

At the end of each day, we knew we were loved and that no matter what else happened, we always had a safe place in the world to count on, to come home to, to be comforted in.

Did they get tired? Yes.

Did they get frustrated? Yes.

Did they get angry? Yes.

Did they sometimes just want to throw their hands up in the air and say “Enough already?” You bet.

Did they handle everything with grace and perfection? Absolutely not.

Did they try? Absolutely.

Did they quit us, even when we had ripped the sleep out of their nights, the peace out of their formerly-tranquil lives, and the color out of their hair? No.

Why?

Because gratitude trumped all those temporary setbacks and disruptions. They saw us as gifts from God and they saw being able to love and care for us as an opportunity to thank God for the gifts He had given them.

And herein lies the reasons we should be thankful for the opportunity to take loving care of our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Our loved ones have been and are gifts given to us by God. How best to show our gratitude to them and to our Creator than to love and care for our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease, as they did for us, when they need us most and depend on us most?

Caregiving is not easy. It is hard, demanding, and often thankless work that requires an unshakeable commitment to persevere in spite of obstacles, in spite of hurts, in spite of the numerous losses it will bring to our own lives.

Caregiving, then, is a gift that each of us has the opportunity and choice to accept or reject.

If we reject that gift, then we are rejecting an incredible opportunity to fully appreciate and to be eternally grateful for the sacrifices, the selflessness, the unconditional love that our loved ones and God Himself, through His Son, made, showed, and gave us, not because we asked for them, but simply because we mattered that much to them.

If we accept that gift, on the other hand, we are the beneficiaries in so many ways that far exceed the challenges we are also accepting.

With this gift, we become kinder people, gentler people, more empathetic people, more understanding people, more patient people, more long-suffering people, more merciful people, more self-controlled people, more humble people, and more loving people.

The gift of caregiving for our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Diseases also gives us the blessings of becoming more courageous, more comforting, more forgiving, stronger, more compassionate, and more sympathetic.

And finally the gift of caregiving increases our faith and our faithfulness: faithfulness to the commitments, physical and spiritual, that we make in our lives; and faith in God and His word and His promises that a time is coming when all things, including our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease as well as those of us who care for them with our limitations, our faults, our flaws, our mistakes, and our missteps, will be completely healed.

There is much to be grateful for as we love and care for our loved ones with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease. I have not even scratched the surface of covering all the areas where we experience gratitude in this journey with our loved ones.

But my hope with this post is that each of us will think about and find the gratitude in our personal experiences that overshadows the pain, the sorrow, the losses, which temporarily sting and grieve us, but in the balance transform us in more mature and more thankful iterations of ourselves.

 

 

A Little Appreciation Expressed Goes A Long Way to Let You Know That Your Efforts Are Not For Nothing

very inspiring blogger award nomination going gentle into that good nightAs a dedicated and passionate educator, advocate, researcher, writer, counselor, supporter, encourager, and someone who has walked firsthand through the journey of dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease with a loved one who spends a lot of waking hours – as well as many hours when I should be sleeping – devoted to making sure there is no lack of practical and usable information and resources available to those who are currently going through or will be going through this journey with their loved ones, it can often seem, with very little tangible feedback (I know people are reading the blog), that I’m wasting my time and just talking to myself.

But every time I start wondering “What’s the point? Nobody cares anyway.,” I remind myself that it’s worth it if only one other person on the planet obtains the help, the information, the encouragement, the empathy, or the “one person besides me gets this” they need.

On the other hand, it is encouraging once in a while to have someone tell you that the work you’re doing is appreciated. It means as much to have a fellow blogger whose own work is appreciated to consider what you provide a source of inspiration.

(None of us is in this for recognition and praise. We’re doing it because we’ve been there and we know what you’re dealing with if you’re there now or what all of those of you who will be dealing with dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease in the future will face.

We know what it’s like to have no information, no support, no help, no nothing and to have to figure out on our own. Our efforts are to not waste the pain, but to pay it forward so that others don’t have to face what we faced.

This is a labor of love and service for the rest of the human race that we are dedicating to providing to each of you.)

I was nominated for the “Very Inspiring Blog Award” by Kay Bransford who blogs in Dealing with Dementia about the journeys with her dad (now deceased) and her mom (living and progressing) through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.

It’s nice to be appreciated and I would like to repay the compliment to several other bloggers. The rules are simple:

  • Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Seven facts about me:

  1. My parents were both in the medical field, and although I excelled in and loved the biological sciences (especially genetics), to my dad’s dismay, I didn’t choose the medical profession as my career. Armed with a humanities degree (with practical minors in math and accounting) and a concrete plan to start my career in technical writing, I morphed into a full and expansive career in information technology.
  2. My mom developed dementias (vascular and Lewy Body) and Alzheimer’s Disease right before my eyes, but I didn’t have the knowledge and the resources to put it all together until it was no longer undeniable. I don’t ever want there to be another person in the world who has to go through the rapid and, sometimes, hard catch up the way I did.
  3. I am thankful that I was able to fulfill the circle of life for my mom, even though I made mistakes along the way, and, to the best of my ability, I was able to fulfill my promise to her that I would do everything within my power and control to ensure that her “second childhood was better than her first childhood.”
  4. Being able to provide hands-on, side-by-side care for my mom – and to walk beside and with her every step of the way to the end – was a gift from God for which I am thankful. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.
  5. I learned things about myself I needed to know as I walked the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease with my mom. I learned lessons that I could not have learned any other way.
  6. In the course of the journey – and beyond – I changed and am continuing to change for the better and matured and continue to mature into a kinder, gentler, more patient, more forbearing, more forgiving, more understanding, and more compassionate version of myself. Although I still have miles to go before I sleep, this much-needed and long-overdue upgrade, with its fixes, patches, and, in some cases, start-from-scratch recoding put me further down this road of change than I was when I started.
  7. God gave me the gift of being able to write. If there’s praise to be given, it belongs to Him. I am responsible for using this gift in a manner that is worthy of the One who gave it to me. To the best of my ability, I strive to do that with every word that I write wherever I write it.

The blogs I nominate are:

My Neighbor Miss D – Miss D’s neighbor Nancy blogs about dementia, elder abuse, and the importance of neighbors caring for neighbors who are alone in their journeys through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease

Lewy Body Dementia: Ten Plus Years of Care, Commentary, and Cleaning Up. – Joy Walker offers humorous and information commentary on caregiving and Lewy Body dementia

The Long and Winding Road: A Journey Through Alzheimer’s Disease – Ann Napoletan blogs about her journey as a caregiver with her mom through Alzheimer’s Disease and also works as an advocate for Alzheimer’s Disease research

Dementia and Dominoes – Pam Stephan gets two nods in my nominations and this is the first, where she shares memories of her dad, who has dementia, and caregiving challenges and solutions

Dining with Dementia – Pam Stephan’s blog with fast and easy recipes for dementia caregivers and their loved ones

The Daily Goodbyes – Cia blogs about her life with her father, who has Alzheimer’s Disease

D 4 Dementia – Beth Britton is a UK blogger providing advocacy and information for caregivers

My Demented Mom – Compelling blog that chronicles the author’s mother’s journey through dementia to death and offers great information for others on this journey

Momma and Me – Arlene shares the story of her mom’s journey through Lewy Body dementia with compassion, humor, and wisdom

Portrait of a Morbid Optimist – Katryna Ormiston’s beautiful blog – her tagline is perfect: “finding love in death” – about caring for her father through his journey with dementia

Let’s Talk About Family – Lori’s blog journals the ups and downs of family life as children become caregivers for their parents with dementia

Story & History – Theresa Hupp’s fascinating combination of her family’s, including dementia, and her journey through life and the history that accompanies it appeals to the history lover in me

Reflections on Dementia, Caregiving, and Life in General – Written by a caregiver in Singapore, this blogger offers a personal, yet international, perspective on dementia and caregiving as she goes through this journey with her mom

Creating life with words: Inspiration, love and truth – Kate Swaffer’s blog is a must-read blog on dementia, family, and hope

Memories From My Life – Pat White’s blog about caring for her mom since her Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis in 2007 is a topical, heartfelt, and compassion story of their journey together

Thank you, Kay, for nominating me. I appreciate it, my friend and fellow traveler on the journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.