I was asked a final question as I ended a presentation. It was this:
What is one thing that all caregivers should always keep in mind?
I didn’t have a clear and concise answer….because I couldn’t come up with one thing.
So here we go.
Over the next few weeks, I will focus on a different one thing each week. Obviously, I know that defeats the purpose of the one thing. But I don’t care.
This week: The one thing caregivers should always keep in mind is that you have to focus on the support.
I said focus on the support. There will be people who you think should be supportive who aren’t supportive. Some friends will disappear. Some family members will be ignorant and critical. Not everyone is going to get it.
But some people will. They might not be the people you expect. Perhaps they are people you didn’t know six months or a year ago. They may be new in your life, or maybe they are people who you’ve known for a while but haven’t been close to.
There might not be that many. Be prepared for that. But stop talking about those who aren’t supportive but should be. Don’t waste your time or mental energy.
Those people who show up? Focus on them…even if they are showing up in small ways.
The brother who lives across the country but makes an effort to call you every Sunday so you can vent.
The sister of your sister-in-law’s cousin’s brother’s uncle….or something like that…who you never knew well but always checks in with you to see how things are going.
The grocery store clerk who takes a moment to talk to your loved one with dementia even though she knows the response won’t make sense.
The neighbor who sends over dinner once a week. (It doesn’t matter if it’s too spicy or too bland or something you’d never really eat.)
The church congregation who says they are praying for you.
The friend who texts you before they go to the store to see if you need anything.
Focus on them.
It doesn’t help to focus on the sister who you never hear from, the step-daughter who visits and spends most of her time out on the town, the friends you never see anymore….stop focusing on the people who aren’t supportive.
Right now, they are not your people. Let it go.
The people who are supportive even in the smallest of ways–they are your people. They are your tribe. They are your team.
It takes a village to raise a child. Maybe it also takes a village to support you on this dementia adventure. Stop focusing on those people who aren’t in your village.
Focus on those who are in your village.
Focus on the support.