Caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be an emotional and physical challenge. The unpredictability of most days can increase your stress, but there is growth in all that you’ve been doing. Take advantage of this new year and new decade to reflect on how this experience has changed you. Artis Senior Living offers up some ways to reflect on the good and let go of the bad.
Find a quiet place to retreat.
Give yourself some extra time at the beginning of the year to focus on how far you’ve come in your relationship with your loved one. If possible, take a weekend retreat to ramp down and rest your body and brain. Things move at a fast pace during the holiday season and you deserve to escape and focus on you. Even if this means a quiet room for an afternoon or an evening away from your typical routine, take it. Reflect on the positive, joyful moments that transpired with your loved one during the past year. If journaling is helpful, put pen to paper. You can return to the journal in this new year and see how you’ve changed and grown during this difficult time.
Remember your life before caretaking.
Call a friend for the camaraderie you have been missing. The friends and relationships you’ve previously nurtured may have dropped off and the new year is the time to rekindle them. Head out to a movie or dinner with your friend and catch them up on how your caregiving life has changed you, while you learn what’s going on with them as well. You’ll quickly find it will seem just like yesterday that you were together.
Gather with friends from your support group.
These are the people who know exactly what you’re going through. At your first meeting in the new year, suggest a discussion topic focusing on only the growth and positive change that has come from caring for your loved one. Bond with your fellow members over the good you have all experienced on your caretaking journeys. If you aren’t a member of an Alzheimer’s support group, search here for one in your local area.
Recall the good days by creating a visual reference.
Seeing something in front of you that represents you and your loved one’s relationship can go a long way to keeping you grounded and reminding you how special the connection is between the two of you. That could be a collage of pictures, a video of your loved one and their experiences, or maybe a shadow box full of a collection the two of you share. Creating and letting your inner artist go in this way can be very fulfilling and spiritually nurturing unto itself. Relax and lose yourself in a creation like this, all the while allowing yourself to say goodbye to the difficult and challenging days.
Take a look at the Artis Senior Living blog for more information about how to take care of yourself as a caregiver.