Happy Holidays!

By Laura WaymanAs The Dementia Whisperer, I meet people every day that truly want to make a difference in the lives of those who they are caring for.  Yet they often did not willingly seek out the role of caregiving.  I don’t think even one of the amazing family members or professionals caring for a loved one or client with any form of dementia report that they always “dreamed” of becoming a caregiver-especially for a loved one challenged by dementia.

Dementia care is not a job that noticeably feels like you are making a difference.  Often the person with dementia resists even minor assistance as dementia hinders the normal brain function providing the dementia sufferer the usual knowledge that they are impaired and in need. So the caregiver faces, on a daily basis, relentless emotional pushback and a habitual shortage of appreciation for all they do while making every effort to provide loving care filled with meaningful moments.

If you are a caregiver and experience natural feelings of weariness and care giver defeat, here are a few ideas to help you enjoy improved feelings of purpose and fulfillment:

  • Showing up positively

Sometimes making a difference is simply a matter of how you choose to show up. Look for ways to be proactively positive in an authentic way.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.  ~Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy”

  • Refusing to contribute to the negative

On the flipside, sometimes making a positive impact requires a little addition by subtraction. Refuse to contribute negativity to your environment. Complaining with no action to make a change is a toxic habit. It does neither you nor the person you are caring for within earshot any good. If you need to be critical, make sure you’re doing it with a constructive purpose, not just because you’re irritated or worse yet, because it’s a habitual reaction.

“He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.”  ~Abraham Lincoln

  • Finding the meaning

This last idea is less about doing anything different to make a difference and more about recognizing the magnificent difference you’re already making. Whatever your caregiving challenge, it can feel more meaningful if you can see what astonishing elements of care you are already contributing.

Start by asking questions. How is this difficult situation better because of what I’m doing? What difference am I making here?

“Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.”  ~William James

The more you focus on making a positive impact, the more opportunities you will recognize, and the more potential you will have to experience a sense of meaning in your work.

Dementia care is all about making the world a better place … a world where when people cannot help themselves or who don’t know how to help themselves are assisted by a kind ‘other’.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”  ~Dr. Seuss

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