The internet is a wonderful thing. I don’t know how I would have handled this whole transition with Mom without the support of those people I have met online and the advice and encouragement I receive each week without ever leaving Mom’s house.
When I am down and it’s the middle of the night (too late to phone a friend!), I’ll look up “dementia care,” “caregivers,” or “quotes” on Pinterest and I have advice to read in seconds. Professional caregivers, medical professionals, and even Winnie the Pooh are there to instruct or encourage.
For those readers unfamiliar with how the site works, by clicking on pinterest.com and using a search word, hundreds of images come up. I have a page where I “pin” ideas – much like using a bulletin board. I have so many interests that I have collections labeled “Mom,” “painting,” “Christmas” (that’s a secret board!), and many others. It’s a wonderful resource for collecting and sharing ideas – especially crafty things although there are images for almost any interest.
One pin I currently have foremost in my brain is the “Caregiver’s 10 Commandments.” I found this pin early in my caregiving life with Mom. There are many lists of advice and encouragement, but this is one I use every day. I have it memorized almost as well as I know the 10 Commandments God gave us through Moses.
The Caregiver’s 10 Commandments
- AGREE – never argue
- REDIRECT – never reason
- DISTRACT – never shame
- REASSURE – never lecture
- REMINISCE – never say “remember”
- REPEAT – never say “I already told you”
- SAY “DO WHAT YOU CAN” – never say “You can’t”
- ASK – never command
- ENCOURAGE AND PRAISE – never condescend
- REINFORCE – never force
With an internet search, I found dozens of other “caregiver’s commandments.” Some of them have to do with self-care for the caregiver and managing stress. Others address the financial or time expenses of caregiving. This one is the one I need the most. It was especially difficult in the early days for me to do numbers four, five, and six. I have gotten better; number nine is easy now, but I still struggle with numbers eight and ten.
Each day I try to review this list before my caregiving begins. She is so precious and fragile in stature that it’s easy to remember sometimes. Then her strong, stubborn nature comes out and I have to remember that she’s not trying to thwart or vex me. It helps when I take her delicate hand in mine. The contrast of her long, slender fingers in my padded palms reminds me to treat her gently.
Pinterest has several quotes that stir my heart and today one by Leeanne Chames caught my attention. “The journey of dementia is a journey like no other. Dementia makes you realize that there’s no time to waste. Each moment is precious, a treasure in its own way. We all know the last chapter in the book. Dementia taught me that all any of us really have is today.”
“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today.” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day.” said Pooh.
I’m with Pooh. Today is my favorite day. No matter where you are, what season of life or circumstances, I hope you can seize the day and make it your favorite, too.