Building a Foundation
Resiliency, Resourcefulness, and Willingness - Guideline 3
I managed a counseling program, worked for a police department, moved across the country, and raised a family. But taking care of Dan as he struggled with dementia overwhelming me. It took every bit of resilience, resourcefulness, and willingness I could muster to get through.
Resilience means bouncing back at the worst of times, picking up the pieces, and starting over. More than once, I was sure I couldn’t continue. Then a word, a thought, or an action would pop up and keep me going a while longer.
Resourcefulness means being creative. I constantly searched for new ways to engage Dan, use words he understood, and adjust to life with who he had become.
Willingness means putting effort into bouncing back and finding new ways of relating - staying the course for as long as possible.
As a caregiver, I dug deep within myself to find more patience, believe in my survival ability, empathize, lead by example, and identify possibilities.
Before dementia raised its ugly head, Dan and I never fought. Then we fought constantly. He didn’t remember the arguments, and I learned to release the memories – most of the time.
I had to be willing to change. I took over the finances, was less honest because Dan couldn’t handle the truth, and gave up many goals and dreams - they would never be.
At the Memory Care Facility
Dan’s stay at the facility was particularly challenging for me. I had to be resilient as I began living alone. I had to be resourceful as I made the necessary changes and willing to accept that he was not in my life in the same way - we were no longer a team or a couple. I was the parent - he was the child.
This was also a challenging time The staff agreed that I could talk with Dan daily and know how he was doing weekly, but it didn’t happen.
Maybe my expectations were too high, and the pandemic played a role, but I had to live with what they provided. The stress during that time took all my resilience, resourcefulness, and willingness to get through.
Dan’s death affected me in every imaginable way - my identity, habits, beliefs, and confidence - topics we will discuss soon. I am finding out who I am and what life means. It is a very different world and not the one I had planned.
I would better prepare
Ask more questions
Most importantly, I would be kinder to myself. I had no idea what emotional toll caregiving would take.
Guideline 4 will discuss practicing self-care.
Thanks for reading Aging Well News! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.
If you want to contribute to my work, consider donating to the Alzheimers Association. This link takes you to their website; the choice is yours.