By Barbara Hinther
I admitted I was powerless over dementia.
Like the first step of the 12 steps in the Alcoholics Anonymous program, we have to accept we have no power over this disease. I was caring for my husband who had Lewy body dementia and my life was unmanageable.
I came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. The dementia caregiver doubts their own sanity while navigating a horrible and terminal illness, especially at the end of the journey. You will be on constant alert. Frazzled. PTSD-like. Tempted to drink too much, shop too much, eat too much and more. Anything for immediate relief. Friends and family don’t want to acknowledge that in this fallen world, this could happen to them. They may feel awkward. We must boldly enlist their help for rides, errands, maybe just to mow the lawn or pick up food. They will be relieved and glad to offer support. It is a step of sanity. Forgive, when you are able, those that abandon you. It happens. That’s another unforeseen challenge. You don’t want to add resentment to your trial. Third, I made a decision to turn my will and life over to God as I understood him. This was very difficult. My will was to have a healthy, present spouse. God has a will for my sanity. I must turn my will over to God. Notice that these first three steps are about you, your emotional, physical and spiritual health first and foremost. It must be! Your loved one needs a healthy caregiver. Reach out. Forgive yourself when you search for relief. Have compassion for yourself, too.
Barbara Hinther is the author of Meditations and Encouragement for the Caregiver.