Ma Chronicles: Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer’s (Part 3) The Self Care Edition
When caregiving, you get a frequent reminder from everyone in your midst to “take care of yourself”. It serves up a lukewarm feeling of receiving kindness, mixed with vague well-wishing, garnished with guilt. You must refill your cup, they say. Take care of the caretaker. The clichés seem endless. And at these times, even the suggestion to take care, doesn’t feel nourishing; it just sounds like another elusive demand, another thing you are not doing well enough.
Below are a few of the things that are helpful to me that make life taking care of a parent bearable and I believe keep me on the side of sanity. For what it is worth, if you are on the brink of burnout, I see you. Take these thoughts with a grain of salt and if there’s a morsel here that serves you, take it and leave the rest. If you are in this position, I think you will find that less is more.
Low maintenance suggestions to battle the burnout:
Focus on beauty.
It doesn’t take any extra time, but can lighten a moment that is heavy with grief. Use that extra pretty dish to plate the food. Pick a flower for the kitchen table. Pad the windowsill with nostalgic items like your favorite crystal or picture frame. In fact, create mini alters to Beauty around the house. No matter how messy every other space may be, create little places that are life-affirming.
Lean into people who are effortless.
Even helpers and old friends can feel like labor when you do not have the emotional capacity to explain, but you may find little angels emerge who make it easy. You will not be burdened with big options, long diatribes, decision making, or complex plans. They’ll say “I’m in the neighborhood and I want to give you these flowers” or “Tell me what evening your are free and I will pick you up and take you out. Tell me which friends you would like to see and I’ll invite them.” “My friend lives near you and wants to bring you food”. All of these things have happened for me and it brings tears to my eyes to even think about it. They do not make you feel like a labor; in fact, these people appreciate you and remind you of who you are outside of your current role. They swoop in…