Caregiver Tips from Santa Barbara - an Alzheimer Journey

Today, I'm going to take a minute for caregivers.  Tips on surviving and thriving.

In an earlier post, I mentioned it's taken a year and a half before I was healthy enough to continue this blog.  That's because I had reached a breaking point of exhaustion and grief and it was taking ALL of me to express any kind of laughter or light heartedness.

Step one.  Breaking point.   I got so angry that I made a resolution that Alzheimers was claiming  Jerry, but it was not going to take me too.  That decision changed my life.  I began to schedule my visits with Jerry to every three days, so that I could be "normal" in between.

Step two. Exercise.  Exercise, you say?  Listen, I was so beaten down that I could barely walk around my block.  I am not exaggerating.  I started Zumba classes,  cried through the first class and almost walked out with my head hung low.  I was a mess!

Set goals to keep on living.  It's been  7 months.  Today, I actually lifted my feet off the ground in a "jog" step  for 6 CONSECUTIVE  minute intervals  and I'm working myself up to my first sprint triathlon.  (well…..maybe)

Step Three.   Acknowledge the grief.  There are still times when I get overcome with grief.  While Jerry is still living, our life, as we knew it, is gone. The most that is there is the essence of who we were.   When tears of grief overcome you, let them flow.  You may as well NOT try to stop it.  When you feel you are drowning in tears and you've taken your last gasp of air, reach down into the inner most of your being and, with a mammoth stroke, thrust yourself back up  to the top.  You'll come popping out of that sea of despair  and you'll gasp in the largest breath of your life.  THAT IS LIFE!

Step Four.  Change of venue.  On occasion, get outta town!  Refresh your spirits.  Keep on trucking.  Move forward.  Make goals.  Don't dwell.  Become focused on flourishing the new you.  A new you will make a much healthier caregiver.  A positive caregiver is a better caregiver.  A happy caregiver makes your loved one happier.  Now, instead of hanging on Jerry and crying in his arms, I can go back and dance with him.