What Dementia Taught Me: Part 1

Caregiving for your parent or parents or your spouse is challenging as there is so much mixed emotions to deal with on a dayily basis.

Each person will have their own experience and will deal with it that little bit different. Very often emotions like anger, anxiety or resentment will dominate the day without any sign of the possibility of an even slight breakout of some sort of relief. But there is always something in a day that can make it more bearable.

Read this insightful story to find out about the change of perspective and how this can help you as well:

If I’m really honest, I was afraid of my Mom. I talk a lot about how angry she made me, how we fought and how she could push my buttons, but underneath all of that, I was afraid of her. I was afraid of her yelling at me, how she could trigger painful feelings in me, her opinion and her judgment. I spent a lot of years in therapy, even getting a degree in psychology to figure out how I could heal and adjust my behavior and attitude in our relationship.

I had made a lot of progress but she still had the ability to set me off and get me to engage in a snarky, mean back and forth that I hated and could ruin me for days. I knew she loved me and knew I loved her, but finding that reality in the midst of a catfight was so difficult.

Imagine, then, my absolute terror when I committed to caring for her. Even though I acknowledged that I was scared out of my mind, the terror manifested in anger, bad temper, night sweats, insomnia, and anxiety. I was trapped, lost, freaked out and had no patience whatsoever.

Something had to give because I was losing my mind and was highly stressed constantly. I was going through the motions of caring for my parents but it felt awful. I was nervous all the time and dreaded waking up in the morning.

My prayers were answered one a day when I caught my Mom in the throes of her Dementia. The poor thing was trying to interpret the information on a big calendar I had on the refrigerator. She was pointing to a doctors appointment on a date and looked so confused and frightened. I could see she had no idea how to understand what it meant. My heart sank and I was flooded with grief, sadness, and empathy. If she were a stranger I would be bursting into tears at this sad, devastating moment and want to run and help them. This wasn’t a stranger but my Mom. My strong, proud Mom who always had an answer for everything. Now she was lost at sea in a terrible storm. I had to save her and I had to make her feel loved and safe. I never looked at her the same again. Empathy had come to visit me and decided to stay. I can’t honestly say I was consistent or that it was easy to let the anger and resentment go and  I never did it perfectly but something changed that day. I became softer, more gentle, and somehow able to show the love I had deep inside to her more often than not.

You can continue reading this excellent post What Dementia Taught Me: Part 1 on Caregiver Warrior.

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