“Success,” Winston Churchill once confidently proclaimed, “is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” I think about this quote at times, and I think about the many Alzheimer’s caregivers I know – both family caregivers and professional in-home Alzheimer’s Disease caregivers -and how the ability to maintain enthusiasm is so very crucial to them.
Let’s not kid ourselves. If you’re caring for your parent with Alzheimer’s, or spouse with Alzheimer’s, there are times when it’s really, really hard. It’s hard physically. It’s hard emotionally. It’s hard financially and socially and spiritually. How are you going to cope, day after day after day, with this situation? That’s a question that can bring tears to your eyes.
Let me assure you that there is an answer. That answer is sharing stories. We are all storytellers. We come into this world hard-wired to listen to stories and to tell stories of our own. There are benefits to us when we listen to stories: we learn new information, perhaps gaining insight into our own personal situations. There are benefits to us when we tell stories: being heard and validated is crucial for emotional well-being.
You may think you have no story to tell. But you do. Right now, you could tell the story of one of your biggest challenges: being a caregiver for a person you love who has Alzheimer’s. We can’t recommend strongly enough joining an Alzheimer’s Caregiver support group. Having an opportunity to talk about what’s going on to an audience that understands every dimension on what you’re going through – because they’ve gone through it themselves! – is so important. You will be a better, stronger, and happier caregiver – and person! – when you can share your stories with others.
This type of self-care has to be a priority. You can’t take care of other people if you don’t take care of yourself. At-home Alzheimer’s care and peer support are two essential ingredients to your health and happiness. Sharing stories is a great place to start.
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