I want to acknowledge something that we “professionals” do to dementia caregivers.
We have good intentions, of course, but you have every right to roll your eyes at us. We preach taking a break. We tell you that respite will do you well. We say that you need to reward yourself with some self-care.
Great recommendations, obviously. But perhaps it sounds like we don’t know your life.
A break? I am supposed to take a break from what….my life? I don’t see anyone waiting here that’s ready to take over my caregiving responsibilities.
Self-care? How can I take a bath when my husband who has Alzheimer’s might wander out the front door and get lost?
A vacation? What a joke. I would be so stressed out being away from my loved one. And my partner had to quit their job when they were diagnosed so we don’t have the money.
Sure, I recommend you do your best to set up some supports so you’ll have more options. An alarm system? A neighbor to stop over? A short weekend trip if you can find a family member to stay with your loved one?
But I get it.
It’s not that easy.
Meditation? Yoga? Great options. But, as a women once told me, “Meditation is great…until my husband starts screaming and crying because I am in another room and he can’t find me.” The reason you most need meditation may be the reason you can’t make it happen.
As a dementia caregiver, you tell people you’re struggling, and they tell you to get a massage. Or maybe a facial. Or to go shopping to relieve some stress. They tell you that you look tired and you should work on getting more sleep. Ha. These people mean well, but I worry their message carries blame.
You are stressed because you’re not doing these things.
Yep, caregivers, just another thing you are messing up.
But, my friends, you are not struggling and stressed because you’re doing something wrong. It’s because….dementia isn’t easy. Your life isn’t easy. And that’s the nature of the beast here.
Caregiving is hard. You are not stressed because you need a nightly bubble bath and a yoga class. You are stressed because caregiving is hard.
That deserves to be acknowledged.