How Mindfulness Helps Me Care For Someone With Dementia
No matter how organized you are and how much you plan in advance, there will always be unplanned challenges in life. You may lose your job after years of hard work, you might have to end a long-term relationship, or your parent might get dementia and become dependent on your care, which is what happened to me. However, no matter how difficult of a challenge it is, caring for somebody with dementia has also taught me that there are always ways to overcome any challenge – or, at least, make it easier to handle. For me, that way was becoming more mindful.
So, in hopes of helping you cope with similar challenges, here’s how being mindful has helped me stay sane while taking care of my demented mother.
SEE ALSO: A Holistic Approach To Mental Wellness
It Helped Me Feel Less Stressed Out
Expectedly, caring for somebody with dementia used to make me feel extremely stressed out at times. Next to taking care of my twins, which already takes a great amount of my time, having to find more time for my mother has changed my lifestyle drastically. At first, I hated the change, and every time I had to stop whatever I’m doing in order to help my mother, I became frustrated because I never had any time for my own needs. I found myself resenting her for changing my perfect life.
Eventually, one of my friends whom I neglected due to my new responsibilities advised me to start and end every day with meditation. At first, it didn’t quite work because I just couldn’t relax. So, I did some research on mindfulness, I added a few more mindful practices throughout the day, and the results began to show. I became much less emotional and moody during the day, and I can safely say that it helped me regain control over my life.
It Taught Me How to Disconnect
Like I said, having to take care of my mother used to make me a nervous wreck, and it was quite noticeable. Even when I wasn’t near my mother, I was tense and constantly worried about what she was doing and if she was going to hurt herself. This affected both my social life and my job. I was struggling with motivation, and I was much less productive than I could have been.
Luckily, after getting more familiar with mindfulness and its practices, I was able to disconnect from my life at home while at work. I learned how to become aware of distractions and focus on the present moment instead of constantly worrying about the past and the future. I also revived my social life and stopped talking about my mother every time I went out with my friends. In short, mindfulness has taught me how to exist in the moment and enjoy it, and I’m extremely grateful for that.
It Made Me Feel Less Alone
One of the most stressful things about taking care of a loved one with dementia is watching them slowly forget all the memories you’ve made together. I always considered it a sort of a “universal rule” that a mother will always love her child, and I know that deep inside, she still does. However, when she started forgetting who I was, it made me feel depressed and alone.
Mindfulness has helped me here as well because it taught me to be more aware of what’s happening around me, and this made me more empathetic to her condition. I understood that she’s not forgetting me on purpose; she is sick, and this is just one of the symptoms. I also realized that just because she is forgetting our memories, it does not mean we can no longer make new ones. More importantly, it made me cherish every moment spent with my twins. As pessimistic as it might sound, if I were to inherit my mother’s condition, I wanted them to have all the beautiful memories that I have of my mother.
This is also when I realized that there’s nothing wrong in getting a bit of help from time to time. So, I’ve started using in-home care services to take care of my mother whenever I want to spend some quality time with my children.
It Made Me a Better Caregiver
I believe that becoming more mindful has made me a much better caregiver than I was before. I started approaching things more realistically because I understood what was happening. I did not let it affect me more than it should. Of course, I’ve still had moments of sadness, but I accepted them as well. After all, it’s not easy watching somebody who’s always been there for you slowly lose control of their identity and life, but in the end, it only made me appreciate her and our memories more.
Taking care of somebody with dementia is not an easy task. It can be stressful, nerve-racking, and very often lonely. However, there are methods that can help you not lose control of your life, and mindfulness is definitely one of them. So, find the time to be mindful, and I guarantee you that everything will become a tiny bit easier.
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