It has been a while since writing in this blog. A lot of decisions have occurred:
- July: my son Stephen told me I will be a grandmother of twins; later found out they are both boys
- before that, I made the decision to retire next year after 33 years of employment at one job
- soon to publish a book, my first one
New things are on the horizon, and there is an unknown territory I will embark upon. At first it felt really scary, but I am getting used to the idea of being a grandmother with my mother being a great-grandmother; she seemed to be pleasantly surprised when I told her the news.
And speaking of my mother, things have changed for her while at the same time remaining the same: of course she still has dementia, which has progressed. I have noticed putting sentences together to convey a thought are becoming more challenging for her. Her mental capacity has diminished, and she has gotten more and more confused about the simplest of things and events, oftentimes bringing up things that happened in the past and thinking that is presently happening:
The nursing home being her place of employment, or a school, or a church. Her telling me her roommate is the owner of the nursing home, being suspicious of everyone (including me), while at the same time relying on me for some assurance that she is in the right place. She knows he brain does not function like it used to (so she is not in denial), which is frustrating for her because she can’t fix it. The same frustration holds true for me, as I can’t fix her either.
As of October 5th of this year, we are in our 4th year of this journey together, and I have learned to just listen to her, not offer any answers, no longer correcting what she says, and continue to be there for her. Yet living life with her is a continual struggle.
The struggle of living life is challenging. Being on the brink of experiencing the new for me is exciting, while continuing to be a caregiver is, well, a struggle. When I see my mother and attempt to carry on a conversation with her, trying to understand her questions while realizing the mom I used to know is no longer, that is where the struggle reigns. There are times when her tone of voice is what I’m used to hearing, when she is lucid are the times that I cherish. Sometimes that is far and few between.
So what can a caregiver like myself do in times when the struggle continues?
- remember you have a life, and live it
- replace worry and frustration with rest
- continue to be a caregiver for your loved one, making changes along the way that will help you and your loved one while handling your care-giving responsibilities.
- look for those friendships and support that help you within the struggle
- find peace and contentment, from reading a book to taking in a movie or a concert, and praying to God to supply your every need.
Be encouraged to know that within the struggle, or the eye of the storm, if you will, there is a solace that will get you through the struggle. For me that is God, who offers an environment where I can go and seek the peace that only He can provide. Sorry, the solace you need is not in eating yourself into oblivion (it only leads to health problems you don’t need), it is not in shopping (it only leads to overspending of things you don’t need), or being alone (loneliness is not a good place to be). But when you discover God’s solace in the realm of prayer, going to Him for anything and everything, life becomes better to handle. It is because it is no longer you trying to do it all; you have invited God to handle the struggle as you live it, welcoming God to do the providing and supplying of needs that will get you through it all.
And that is the type of solace we all need.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5:6, 7