Jul 2, 2011

Alzheimer’s and One Day at a Time

If you are going in circles, feeling overwhelmed and tired, trying to figure out what you need to do, and not certain of your direction -- Stop

By Barbara Pursley
Alzheimer's Reading Room

When Mom was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I had to embrace the mystery of the disease.

That was eighteen years ago when I was forty-two and attending college. Alzheimer’s was a foreign word and it had not yet grown to be the devastating disease it is today.

I wanted to know everything about Alzheimer’s. I wanted an instruction sheet with a set of rules. I wanted all of the answers.

Surely, there had to be a caregiver’s map.

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I wasn’t able to throw my hands in the air and enjoy the ride. No, I had to hold onto the handlebars with both hands. I didn’t feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my face. It wasn’t a magical trip that felt joyful and exhilarating.

My bike had one flat tire. It was wobbly and slow. The path was twisted with curves and signs of fear and caution. Something bad was happening. Something terrible and traumatic was on my path. An event that would change my life forever. I felt like life had pounced on me and stole my joy and peace.

The gentle rhythm of my life had changed in a manner of seconds.

I cried while dialing the number of my best friend. She was a compassionate and loving person who always saw the bright side of life. Maybe, she would help me put things in perspective.

I told her about Mom’s diagnosis and she listened with an open heart. She reminded me of the slogan, “One Day at a Time.” She brought my attention to the fact that all of my fear was based on the future and reminded me to stay in the present moment.

Within a short period of time I heard myself laugh. My heart opened and I began to feel a sense of relief. The world had not come to an end and I knew that God would give me the strength to be a good caregiver

Alzheimer’s was slowly revealing it’s mysteries to me. I let time be my compass trusting that life would reveal to me the knowledge I needed for caregiving. Easier said than done.

I set myself free of fear. Gave myself permission to experience all of the unknowns while Mom and I walked that bumpy, winding road together.

Sometimes, we don’t know what’s next or what we think our lives will look like down Alzheimer’s road. It’s okay to not know all the answers.

Sometimes, the reason we don’t know is because what’s coming is going to be very different from anything we’ve experienced before and we need to take it slow and easy.

The lesson is trusting the process that is unfolding “One Day at a Time.”

As a caregiver, where are you on this journey? Are you able to accept living “One Day at a Time” and be in the present moment or do you tend to spend more time in fear of the future?

If you are going in circles, feeling overwhelmed and tired, trying to figure out what you need to do, and not certain of your direction -- Stop. Take a deep breath. Pray.

Maybe, you are right where you need to be.

Barbara Pursley was born in Galveston, Texas and is the author of EMBRACING THE MOMENT. Barabara attended Santa Monica College, studied photography, and worked as a commercial photographer before returning to Texas to care for her mother. Barbara also taught journal writing to women in Texas rehabilitation facilities. She put her God inspired journal entries and photographs into book form in 2009.

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Original content Barbara Pursley, the Alzheimer's Reading Room