I believe the way we approach life has everything to do with the way we experience it. I believe the same thing about being a care partner to someone who lives with Alzheimer disease or a related dementia.
Like me, most dementia care partners are drafted into the role with little if any training or knowledge of the diseases that cause dementia. We are bombarded with an overwhelmingly negative narrative that comprises nothing but suffering, pain, loss, grief, and tragedy. If we let that narrative define our experience of being a care partner, we, and the person or people we care for and with will indeed suffer. The negative narrative becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What if we could turn that around? What if, instead of focussing on loss, we concentrated on what we stand to gain? What if we homed in on potential?
Being a care partner to someone who is living with Alzheimer or a related dementia may provide you, your family members and your friends opportunities to:
- take living and loving to greater depths and heights
- heal past wounds and protect against future hurt
- learn more about the person you care for and with
- learn more about yourself
- grow your capacity for compassion
- discover what is most important in life
- better understand what it means to be human
- practice patience
- embrace empathy
- find ways to manage adversity
- learn how to live in the moment – right now!
- get into the habit of letting go
- find joy in simple things
- create a more meaningful life
- see the world from a different perspective
- spend more time with someone you love
- know your own strengths
- ask for and receive help from others
- be a source of inspiration
- share your human experience
I experienced all of these things and more, so I know for a fact that turning the tables on Alzheimer disease and other dementias is possible. Was my life as a care partner a bowl of cherries? Certainly not! Nor was it a long slow train through hell and into oblivion. It contained as much joy as it did heartbreak. I guess some of that is sheer luck. But a lot of it also had to do with being open to opportunity.