When you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, sometimes you just want an instruction book.
There is the random outburst from your loved one at a restaurant, and suddenly, embarrassed and deflated, you feel like the parent whose two year old just flung mashed potatoes at the people next to you. You want to disappear right at the table or try to sneak out unseen. No one heard right? Or, you find that your loved one just can’t stop picking up the phone to repeatedly call Aunt Ellen…who passed away twelve years ago.
They make instruction books for this, right?
Between motherhood and other crisis moments throughout the years, my confidence slowly came back. I knew the right questions to ask, when to stay calm and when to act quickly. I knew I could do this even with the inevitable bumps in the road. I knew that one moment of failure would not define me.
I was no longer afraid that I would be a poor excuse for a caregiver.
Looking back, I realise that seeing my dad — the person who was my protector and seemingly the strongest man I knew — needing help was rightfully a frightening situation. It was the first time I realised that my dad wasn’t invincible and that someday he wouldn’t be here.
Regardless of how quickly we become the one giving care, it is okay to be afraid. It’s okay to be sad and unsure at times, to question if what we are doing is the right thing. But we cannot forget to make time for those moments when we are the caregiver rock star; the times when we do something we didn’t think we could. We have to make time for the good and celebrate the little victories along the way. We have to remember that one moment will never define us; rather it is our entire journey that ultimately makes the destination what it is.