You Need Friends

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Until his death, my father cared for my mother.  As she slipped deeper into dementia, she communicated less; only wanting to watch television.  On several occasions, he said what he missed most was the conversation with his wife. In other words, he became lonely.

Being a caregiver for a relative with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia can be lonely.  Friends and relatives may visit occasionally, but most of the time you are alone with a person who can’t hold a normal conversation.  Dad never liked to talk on the telephone, but as my mother slipped away mentally, I noticed he called more often and conversed longer.

Here are three encouraging suggestions.  First, you must have social interaction for your own mental health.  Make some arrangement to get out and mingle with people even if it’s just a few hours once a week.  Visitors at home are great, but it is preferable to escape the physical and mental confines of caregiving for a while.

Though I found it refreshing to escape for a few hours to shop for groceries or supplies at the hardware store, that is not sufficient.  You need to interact with people.  Alzheimer’s support groups are a great place to associate with others.  Some other suggestions are genealogy organizations, writing clubs, quilting groups, or a Sunday School class.   Socialization will keep you in touch with the real world so you won’t feel trapped in the confines of full-time caregiving.  Research indicates people who socialize live longer and are less likely to develop dementia.

Second, this problematic time won’t last forever.  Try to use it wisely.  Though you may be a twenty-four-hour caregiver, you will have quiet times to enjoy some books or study the Bible.  This might be a good time to write a book or poems.  Possibly, you could become a gourmet cook or learn to sew.  Try to do something productive with your downtime while a caregiver.  It will give you a sense of accomplishment, and it may give you some mental escape.

Last, but not least, remember you are not alone.  Christ is with you.  Rely on his promise in Hebrews 13:5-6 NASB, He assured, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.”

 

Once I visited a friend for a morning cup of coffee.  He was a tough marine but surprisingly compassionate.  He said he’d had a pleasant conversation with his father earlier that morning.  Since it was early, I was surprised he had already talked to anyone.  He informed me he always rose early for a quiet time with his father.  Then, I realized he was referring to his heavenly Father.  Each morning he read his Bible and prayed.  It prepared him for the challenges of the day but also kept him emotionally healthy.

 

Being a full-time caregiver for a dementia patient can be a lonely time.  It will take an active effort on your part to keep yourself mentally healthy.  Remember, you are not alone.  Christ can help you.

© 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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