You Do A Lot
Are you making things worse? Even accidentally?
Ha! How could you possibly, when you’re running your buns off to make life better? You’re the primary care partner, the chef, the housekeeper, the gardener, the chauffeur. Julie on the Love Boat wishes she had your mad skills, right?
From the outside, it sure looks like someone should be throwing a parade in your honor for everything you do!
But are you also the primary care partner who’s sleep deprived, run ragged, living with a few chronic aches and pains, vaguely remembering the days you had a sense of humor…and friends you could share it with? (Remember when you had time for friends?)
Are you a care partner who’s now so accustomed to living with chronic anxiety and worry that you don’t exactly recall what Life Before Dementia felt like?
You Do All The Things
I’m not talking about social anxiety disorder, I’m not talking about panic attacks; I’m talking about you being so overwhelmed by day-to-day life as a dementia care partner that you’re spending a pretty good chunk of your time feeling stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.
Because you don’t just do a lot, you do all the things. Or at least that’s what it feels like.
And it’s starting to crush you.
Stress, anxiety, and overwhelm are starting to become so ingrained in you, that it’s hard to see daylight. It looks like this: a client comes to me because her mom refuses to shower. I begin to outline a specific strategy to address the problem, and before I can even finish, the client is asking, “But what if that doesn’t work? What if she doesn’t go along with it?”
Situations like, “My dad shouldn’t be driving anymore! I don’t know what to do!” and again, before I can even get to explaining step 2 of a solution, the client is saying, “What if that upsets him? What if he refuses?”
The Magic of Contagious Energy
As dementia progresses, the intellect recedes but the emotional center comes to the forefront. Call it soul, heart, spirit, third eye, sixth sense, or whatever you want, but here’s the deal: people become more and more adept at reading your energy, picking up on what you’re bringing to the interaction.
If you’re oozing anxiety, your loved one will pick up on it. Happily, if you’re bringing the good stuff (respect, kindness, and love), that’s just as contagious. Anyone who’s ever worked in memory care knows this for a fact.
Click here for the answers to “But what if it doesn’t work?”, “What if she doesn’t go along with it?”, “What if it upsets him?”, and “What if he refuses?”
Two years after I left my favorite memory care community, I returned for a visit. Now, two years is a long time to live with dementia; I had zero expectation any of the residents would recognize me. Yet people crowded around me as I walked through the community.
People I knew, as well as newer residents I’d never met–they were all picking up on my energy. They liked it, it made them feel good, and they wanted to be around it.
It didn’t matter to them (or me) that they didn’t know my name or recognize me; they just knew they liked how they felt. Whether we have dementia or not, we all like to be around people who make us feel good!
You Can Do This, Too
When I go to a private home to do an assessment, I’m easily able to gain entry–even when families tell me, “Oh, but you’ve never met MY mom, Christy! She makes LDS missionaries cry for sport!”
Or, “You don’t understand MY dad, Christy! He likes to greet people at the door with a shotgun!” And yet I’m consistently warmly welcomed into the home.
Why? It’s the energy I bring.
It’s true I believe I was put on this earth specifically to work with people living with dementia and their families, so there’s definitely the element of a gift there. But it’s equally true that I can teach you how to do the same thing!
Dementia isn’t contagious, but energy is.
If you’re often anxious, worried, or otherwise in a state that prevents you from bringing what I call “the good stuff” (respect, kindness, and love), you’ll transmit that as loud and clear as a backfiring car to your parent or partner living with dementia. Guaranteed.
The energy you bring–the good stuff–is such a big deal that you have the ability to turn it into a super power. You can hop into a scary, confused moment with your parent or partner and make it okay for them. Think about that for a minute: you can actually manipulate their reality into a positive experience! If that’s not a super power, I don’t know what is.
Are you ready to step out of overwhelm and anxiety? Are you ready to feel better and sleep better (no trip to the gym required!)? Click the button below now to schedule a complimentary Dementia Care Partner Strategy Session with me.