Dec 8, 2017

My Caregiver After Life, Holiday Perceptive About Caring for Dotty and How This Might Help You

While we care we become attached to our loved in a way that is hard to describe. The emotion is enormous. It seemed to me that I was attached to my mom by an invisible umbilical cord.

While we care we become attached to our loved in a way that is hard to describe.
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

It is that time of year again -  the Holiday's. If you have finished your caregiver journey this can be a really difficult time. A time filled with great sadness. But is it really sadness or great love - I'll get to this below.

For those of you that are still caring this can also be a very difficult time. Some of you will be traveling or taking your loved one to a family affair. Sadly, some of you will be alone. I know what that feels like.

Me? I took my journey - eight and a half years - 3,112 days. Amazingly that makes me about average when it comes to caring for a person living with dementia.

Today I am going to add some perspective and write about some of the things I learned on my long journey with my mom, Dotty.

If hope you find this helpful.

1. The Invisible Umbilical Cord

While we care we become attached to our loved on in a way that is hard to describe. The emotion is enormous. It seemed to me that I was attached to my mom by an invisible umbilical cord. In this scenario we are the one(s) doing the nurturing, providing the care, and keeping our loved one attached to the world.

I asked myself while living in Alzheimer's World - Why? Why does my mom call out my name constantly. Even when I was a few feet away. If she couldn't see me she would call out - Bobby where are you?

When Dotty woke up in the morning - Bobby where are you?

The best was the first time this one happened. My mom was sitting with my sister in the kitchen and asked - Where's Bobby? My sister answered - he is in the other room. Dotty then called out - Bobby where are you? YouWho, Bobby where are you?

I learned that yelling out I'm here mom was not good enough. Every time I had to get up, go to wherever she was, look at her, smile, and say here I am.

It was then that I started to understand, we were attached by an invisible umbilical cord.

This probably happens to you. When you go out your loved one asks repeatedly - where are you? where are you? where are you?. They ask repeatedly - when is he coming back? when is he coming back? when is he coming back?

No amount of explanation of the part of the one(s) that are looking after your loved one will satisfy. Your loved on has to see you. They have to feel the attachment - the attachment of the invisible umbilical cord.

I learned quite a bit from these episodes. The most important thing I learned is they love us more. They can't live or thrive or even stand the idea that we are not in their presence. I wrote many articles about this. If you haven't read this one give it a read.

Or, check out this topics page that includes a series of articles from our Knowledge base.

Now I am going switch gears.

It is very likely that if you have already completed your caregiver journey you are going to miss your loved one during the Holiday's like there is no tomorrow. There is nothing wrong with this feeling - in fact I believe it is a good thing.

I often ask when a caregiver tells how me how sad they are; or, how much they miss their loved one - are you sure that is the only thing you are feeling?

I often suggest they sit down in a comfortable chair in a quite place and think about it.

Why are you so sad? Is it possible that you are also feeling great love, enormous love. After all, you are now detached from the invisible umbilical cord.

When they are gone - we suffer from what I think is a kinda postpartum separation. I mean think about it. Are we still worrying about their well being? Are all those wonderful and anxiety fill emotions still rolling around in our brain? All those caregiver instincts.

I believe this. When we care for a person living with dementia they come to love us so much its unreal. I don't think many of us realize this

They Love Us More

How can you explain that they constantly call out our name when they can't see us, that they become so anxiety ridden when we are gone (even for a little bit of time) that they can't stand it, and that they often follow us around all over the place.

What conclusion can you come to? Only one I think.

They Love Us More.

They love us so much then can't stand to be without us - even for a minute.

They are attached to us by and invisible umbilical core And, we are attached to them by an invisible umbilical cord.

Think about this one. They miss us so much they can't stand to be without us. Isn't it possible that we miss them so much we can stand it for the same reason - the invisible umbilical cord.

Sadly, Alzheimer's patients can't always tell us how they feel. But I bet you have heard the term -

"actions speak louder than words"

Give that some thought.

Search the Alzheimer's Reading Room Knowledge Base for Answers to Your Questions, and Solutions to Problems

Here are a couple of tips for those of you who are still caring.

One of the things that hurt me the most was when my mom would say

"Get out, I don't need you, I can take care of myself"

Think about that one - I am taking care of my mom 24 hours day, 7 days a week, and she tells me she doesn't need me. Ouch.

I finally figured out a solution. What did I do? I smiled, walked over to her, put my arm around her, and calmly said, in a clear, low, confident voice,

I'm not going anywhere, we are here together now, and I am going to take care of you.

Read more about this here.

Here is another elaboration on the technique to solve this problem

When my mother would say something mean and nasty to me like,

"get out, I can take care of myself".

I would smiled at her, put my head against her forehead, and say something positive like,
"I am here, and I am not going anywhere".

While my forehead was still attached to hers I added something like,

"We are both here to take care of each other, we need each other".

I was hoping beyond hope that somehow my mother would come to believe we were a team.

It worked.

I understand this article is long. However, for those of you that have not yet done so here are a few things I would like you read. T

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized expert, writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide.

The Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles and has been published daily since July, 2009.

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