Julie, you won! You will receive several years of Caregiving for your father after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. On top of that, you will begin to provide care and oversight for your mother as she slowly declines with physical issues, as well as a different form of dementia!
Seriously, it exhausts me if I allow myself to be transported to the thick of those days. To say I was depleted is an understatement. Between 2009 and 2021, I was raising my own two children, transitioning through a divorce and changing jobs several times in an attempt to find the perfect arrangement for my life as a caregiver. If you are a caregiver, welcome to the tribe. Please understand you are supported by a loving and wise community of those who have gone before you.
While caregiving I became certified as a Law of Attraction Life Coach. In my training, I learned the 7 Spiritual Laws, I discovered the tools of Mindfulness and Meditation and I picked up the idea of looking for the gifts within the myriad of challenges that unfold in one’s lifetime.
The timing was amazing. As my investment with my parents increased, so did my ability to apply what I was learning. My hope is that I might share these same tools so that you can begin to apply one or two immediately. By applying these tools, my prayer is that you will tap into the peace that resides inside of you at all times. Please read the easy-to-follow directions below, but bear in mind these tools are more of a practice than they are a quick fix.
• You are Enough! YOU ARE. You’ve got this and we’ve got you. When you feel like you are not enough, it is because you are doing too much without replenishing your self-care tank. (More on that below). ASK FOR HELP. What was that? I heard you. You believe there is no one who can help you. I believe there is and within this community we can figure it out. Reach out for help (firstname.lastname@example.org) and be connected to the right support now.
• You have permission to curl into the fetal position, under the blankets on your bed or in a lump on the floor, whatever works for you. You have permission to do this whenever it is needed and to cry, moan, curse or what-have-you to release the emotion that is clamping down on you so hard that you are incapable of functioning today. I remember the person who gave me permission, Andi Walsh, Director of Wellspring Village at Brightview Westminster Ridge, during my mother’s stay in the last year of her life. There was a day when Andi gave me permission to stay home and cry all day in lieu of my regular visit with Mama. Thank you, Andi – I will love you forever.
• Follow your intuition, your gut, your I can and I will! When you feel a sensation – usually emanating from your upper belly area – and you know without a doubt there is something you are meant to ask, say or do, then you just better ask, say or do it! That mechanism in our physical bodies is working 24/7 for us as a guidepost. Pay attention and follow its direction! When your loved one is not getting the attention he or she needs, or the medications seem wrong, or they are sleeping too much, or not eating properly, or falling often and your gut says to speak up – please do. I used to worry about offending others, so I decided to communicate my message with kindness. Just be sure to satisfy the ache and the knowingness you are feeling.
• Pray, meditate, exercise and, in fact, make a list of anything that fills your cup. Remember above, I said, “more on that later”? It’s later. I love to quote Eleanor Brownn who said, “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” Other forms of self-care include taking a bath or a walk or spending time in nature and I strongly recommend creating a spiritual practice if you are open to it. Speak to the entity of your choosing and surrender to the love and the grace that awaits you. Turn over those things that you can no longer carry on your own and notice how your life will shift for the better.
Welcome, Warrior, to the world of Mindful Living. Lean on the tribe, drink from the font that fills your soul and surrender those things that weigh you down. There are gifts that come disguised as challenge and pain. Know it, trust it and breathe in and out as if your life depends upon it.
Julie founded her company, Tanglewood Life Coaching and Speaking, and is trained as a Speaker, Life Coach and Reiki Healer. Julie earned a BS of Communications at Towson University, a Certification as a Law of Attraction Life Coach, a Certification as a Level II Reiki Healer and a Certificate of “Caregiving for Parents 101” (wink wink). Julie also volunteered for the Alzheimer’s Association where she facilitated educational programs, advocated on both the state and federal level and managed various fundraising efforts to help find a cure. Eventually, she became an employee of the Alzheimer’s Association where she continued learn and building her awareness of the disease and the resources available to families.
Julie is happiest when she is living her purpose by acting in service to others through education and training, through energy healing with Reiki or simply by offering support when someone needs a soft place to land. The loves of her life are her husband, Jerry, and their shared children, Denny, Megan and Isabella.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.
Deb is the author of “Your Caregiver Relationship Contract and “A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers.” Your Caregiver Relationship Contract is available in both English and Spanish. It explains how to have an intentional conversation and the how unspoken expectations can cause problems during caregiving. A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers explains how important it is to learn how your person wants to live their live out and how you, the caregiver is the most important person in this relationship, giving you tips and tricks for this journey.
Click here to learn more about Your Caregiver Relationship Contract or here for the Spanish version: Su Contrato de relación como cuidador de un ser querido. Click here to learn more about A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers.