The “Transition Aging Parents” blog (transitionagingparents.com/blog) was started by Ms. Dale Carter of Indiana after she became a caregiver for her mother in 2009. She began blogging to help adult children caregivers. In 2014, Dale’s husband was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). Still, the focus of her blog remains helping caregivers, regardless of diagnosis. (In fact, there are only three posts that mention LBD.)
Recently, Dale posted about “how to stay sane and healthy as a caregiver spouse.” She offers six “timeless lessons,” including:
1- Recognize that you will ride an emotional roller-coaster.
2- We each can choose our response to the situation.
3- Recognize that each family member will process the situation differently and in their own time.
4- Ensure you build and maintain a circle of support for your loved one and for you.
5- Getting enough sleep, fitting in workouts, meditating, and taking time for yourself are vital to your physical and emotional health.
6- There is no right or wrong way to do things.
Most of the blog post is copied below. Again, it applies to all caregivers, not just spouses.
How to Stay Sane and Healthy as a Caregiver Spouse
by Dale Carter
June 13, 2017
Transition Aging Parents
As caregiver spouse for my husband (with Parkinson’s and Lewy Body dementia), I want to share a few of my key “lessons learned.” I wrote this “still relevant” list in another blogpost 2 years ago. Amazing how timeless these lessons are.
1. As a caregiver, recognize that you will ride an emotional roller-coaster. There were moments of feeling blessed for receiving an early diagnosis and then times of despair as I realized that our future had changed forever.
2. Recognize that while there may be no cure for a loved one’s diagnosis, we each can choose our response to the situation. I’ve always been an action-oriented advocate. Know there is a time for that BUT there is also a time for just being present with your loved one. There is great healing in your presence, even just sitting in silence.
3. Certainly educate yourself and your family members about the illness and prognosis. But recognize that each family member will process the situation differently and in their own time. My daughter told me she could not bring herself to read the info I sent her, but one night she watched a Netflix show, “The Boss”, in which the lead character has Lewy Body. She told me she sat, riveted to the show, and finally was able to understand what was happening to her father.
4. Ensure you build and maintain a circle of support for your loved one and for you. My husband’s “twice a week” CAREgiver is a vital part of his life. He tells me that she patiently helps him, shares in his interests and even plays the piano for him. As for me, a colleague convinced me to take a much needed birthday getaway weekend with a childhood friend while my son took my husband to see his sister. Sometimes it seems that all the planning to do special events is just too much trouble and expense, but it is critical for your well-being.
5. One thing I struggled with even before being a caregiver was getting enough sleep and fitting in workouts. This is not just important. It is vital to your physical and emotional health. Set a bedtime and get at least 7 hours of sleep. I choose to do my workout in early morning. It doesn’t matter when you exercise, meditate or take time for yourself. The key is actually doing it!
6. And, finally, recognize you are on your own unique journey. There is no right or wrong way to do things. So much is out of your control. If you act out of love, compassion and the humility that you need others, you will be doing the best you can for your loved one and yourself.