You Need Friends

woman with red top and black shorts on purple yoga mat
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Until his death, my father cared for my mother. As she slipped deeper into dementia, she communicated less. His greatest disappointment? Dad said he missed conversations with his wife. He never talked much on the telephone, but as my mother’s mind wasted away, I noticed he called more often and conversed longer. Mom’s able-bodied husband was lonely and needed to talk with someone.

As a caregiver for a relative with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia, we can become isolated. Friends and relatives may visit, but most of the time, we’re alone with a person who can’t hold a meaningful discussion.

So, here are three encouraging suggestions for caregivers. First, human interaction is necessary for our mental health. We must get out of the house and mingle — even if just a few hours once a week. Visitors at home are fantastic, but I prefer to escape the physical confines of caregiving for a while.

Though I find it refreshing to shop for groceries or supplies at the hardware store, I need more. We, caregivers, need to interact with people. Alzheimer’s support groups are a great place to associate with others who are going through the same struggle. More suggestions are genealogy organizations, writing clubs, quilting circles, or a Sunday School class. Socialization will keep us in touch with the real world. Researchers claim caregivers who socialize live longer and are less likely to develop dementia.

Second, our journey won’t last forever, so we should use these days wisely. Though we may be twenty-four-hour caregivers, we’ll still have quiet times. This might be an excellent time to study the bible or pray. If creative, we can author poems or a book, become a gourmet cook, or learn to sew. For our well-being, we should try to be productive with our downtime for a sense of accomplishment and refreshing.

Last, but not least, we’re not alone, for Christ is with us. We rely on his promise in Hebrews 13:5-6 NASB. He assured us, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” So with confidence, we say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.”
Once, I visited a friend for a cup of coffee who said he’d had a pleasant conversation with his father earlier. Since this Christian’s custom was an early morning devotion, I knew he was referring to his heavenly Father. At dawn, he read his Bible and prayed to prepare him for the challenges of the day.

His devotion to prayer reminded me of George Washington as told by his nephew and personal secretary. Washington rose at 4:00 a.m., kneeled before an open bible on a chair and prayed for an hour. In the evening, even if guests were present, he prayed from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. My hope for we caregivers are a fraction of the blessing God gave Washington when he prayed.

Being a full-time caregiver for a dementia patient can be lonely. It takes an active effort on our part to stay healthy. We are more prone to mental and physical disease than the general population, so let’s remember, we’re not alone — Christ will help us.

© Ronald Milburn 2018

2 thoughts on “You Need Friends

  1. Ruth Sparks August 22, 2018 / 9:25 am

    Ron, bless you for seeing this undertaking through. Clearly you will bless others as they face the same challenge. You truly are a testament to making a difficult situation doable. I know that your dad is resting peacefully, knowing that you are so beautifully caring for your mom.
    Ruth

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tina Wright August 22, 2018 / 12:00 pm

    I love you!!! Caring for a parent is hard and when they don’t know you it is even harder I’m sure. I have not had to experience with my mother not knowing me. However working in the nursing field for 20 years, I have watched so many families go through what you are going through. With the help of our lord and lots of patience you will get through everyday. You are doing so much for your mom who has always been a loving woman, she always had a hug for me. She ADORED her family!!! Every single one of them!!! Ruth is so right, your dad is so proud of his family! He is up in heaven looking down with a big smile on his face. Love you all and give my sweet aunt a kiss on the cheek from us. BIG HUGS to you and your sweet wife.

    Liked by 1 person

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