Hey there Careblazer!
The holidays are upon us. While all the commercials and TV shows, and people you come across may seem happy, joyful and doing all the wonderful holiday things, I know for many of you this is an especially difficult time. It can feel lonely and sad and like you’re one of the few people around that doesn’t have that great family connection or that has to spend Thanksgiving cleaning up bathroom messes, waking up in the middle of the night for your loved one who is wandering or having bathroom accidents, or screaming that they just want to go home when they are at home.
For some of you, this is especially difficult because your loved one is no longer at home with you. They may be in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or even have passed away. Given all the emotions that typically come along with this time of year, I wanted to spend some time talking about something that creates a lot of distress and discomfort for us that we all do from time to time and you may find yourself doing this more often now that it’s the holidays.
I put together a special gift for you to help you apply this concept to your life so be sure to listen to this episode on youtube and download the audio script I put together for you- it’s in the description of the video.
There is something you are doing that is creating a lot of extra stress for you and that is comparing the way things used to be to the way things are now. Do you ever find yourself doing this? You think about how things were in the past and how much different they are now? For example, this time of year thinking about how you used to go over to your mom’s house and she would have a wonderful spread of food and the entire family would be there and you’d have a wonderful day. And you compare that to her not being able to cook anymore, you being so busy with caring for her that you can’t even cook or host a thanksgiving meal yourself.
Or maybe you used to go on Thanksgiving morning hike with your loved one and now your loved one is confined to a wheelchair and unable to do much. Or maybe you used to enjoy quiet Thanksgiving mornings drinking coffee and watching the macy’s day parade with your loved one and now it feels empty and quiet because your loved one isn’t even in the home anymore and you’ll be stopping by the nursing home later to spend some time with them.
Life can change so much over the course of a year and over the course of several years. For many of you, you’ve been at this Careblazer thing for a while and you’ve watched your loved one decline over that time.
What I want to invite you to do to help relieve some of that distress, is to practice being grateful for some of those postivie memories that you have in your mind. Thankful for those experiences and accepting that things are different now. Practice being in the present moment, being present with the way things are today without comparing them to how things were in the past. It’s a simple concept but a bit challenging to put into practice in real life. Be present in today, Be present in whatever moment you are in. I heard a quote recently, I think it may have been from the Ed Mylett podcast, I can’t remember exactly, but it said “WHEREVER YOU ARE, BE THERE.” How many times during the day are you not where you are? Your mind elsewhere. You can be at home with your loved one, yet your mind is back at work, or back to last Thanksgiving when things were better, or reliving a conversation you had with someone?
So the big takeaway: get away from the constant comparison of how things were/used to be to how things are now. And the way you can really start to do this is by being in the present moment. Being where you are both physically and mentally. Now it’s completely natural and human for the mind to think of the past, and it’s okay to reminiscence and go down memory lane. But I encourage you do to this from a place of gratitude for having had that experience or gratitude for that experience having passed. If you find yourself wishing things were back the way they were or feeling distress about the comparison, then bring yourself back to the present moment.
I know some of you have have pasts that weren’t very good. Perhaps you are caring for someone with dementia that didn’t treat you well or has never really been kind to you. That still creates to distress you feel currently. It breeds resentment for all the sacrifices and care you are giving in the present moment. The same principle applies. Often whenever we find our minds focusing on the past, it brings distress and discomfort. Even in those situations, ESPECIALLY in those situations, you also want to come back to the present moment.
Now because being present in the moment is actually quite a difficult thing for people to do, I put together some audio scripts of me going through some exercises of being in the present moment that you can practice at any point. They are a few examples of how you can practice being in the present moment in some basic everyday tasks. Once you get these tasks down, you can start to apply them to some of the more difficult everyday tasks such as helping your loved one dress, bathe and any other activity you do during your day. And here’s the absolutely beautiful thing. If you are truly in the present moment, you can’t be sad or depressed or upset about things being different than how you want them to be because you aren’t living in the past.
What do you say Careblazer? Are you ready to try this out. Have you noticed that you tend to compare how things are with your loved one to the way they used to be with your loved one? Are you willing to try something different to start feeling better? Let’s do a quick recap:
And that’s it Careblazer. I’m thinking of you all. I’m wishing you all a peaceful and comforting thanksgiving.
If you find yourself wanting to change the way things are, to feel a bit better, to feel more confident and able to handle those difficult dementia behaviors, I put together a special program on being a dementia Careblazer and how you can get through all the tough times. If you can’t stand the thought of another year the way that you’ve been feeling this past year, I invite you to check it out: Manage Dementia Caregiver Stress link below this video. I know it can help. I also think today’s video can help.
I’ll be back next week. Keep up the good work.