Leggo my . . . slippers?

Last summer, I spent twenty minutes searching the house for mom’s lost slippers. I checked all the logical spots (closet, bathroom); hailed St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things; struggled not to lose my cool. On a whim, I opened the tiny freezer above the refrigerator and there they were, nestled among Eggo waffles, frozen peas and pizzas.

Mom’s comment: “I guess my feet were hot.” How could I not laugh?

Finding humor in certain situations is vital to dementia caregiving. Just remember to throw in a hefty dose of mindfulness, compassion and sensitivity when it comes to how your caree will respond.

Mom and I both laughed hard at the frozen slippers. She may not remember, but it’s forever a happy memory for me. As Jimmy Buffet reminds us: “If we didn’t laugh we would all go insane.”

Man Plans, God Laughs

Planning and routines originated in my childhood. Even before the days of helicopter moms and overscheduled afterschool activities, my mother had me on a tight schedule from birth: sleeping, eating, playtime. It set the stage for my future.

In the business world, my Year-at-a-Glance wall calendar was filled with seminars, trips, and meetings. Suddenly leaving the security of that perfectly choreographed life to take care of my mother was not part of the plan.

As caregivers, we live unplanned lives. We must do our best to live life a day at a time, and when that’s too difficult, try to stay in the moment, to live in the “now” of what caregiver Bob DeMarco calls Alzheimer’s World.

All the planning in the world can’t guarantee results, but it will guarantee heartburn unless I remember that I’m not in charge.

Encore! Encore!

I’m two years into an encore career. Although I found my passion – writing – at an early age, my life took a vastly different turn, ultimately landing me in a 25-year insurance sales career.

Life changed dramatically when I exited the corporate world and abruptly entered the world of dementia caregiving. Caring for my mom has become an unexpected career which sometimes seems more like a duty.

In reality, caregiving is the best form of service, even if it doesn’t feel like it. It’s taken a while to embrace this; longer to actually live it. Being of service has long been part of my life, through volunteering at animal rescues and helping others in recovery. Now, I’m giving back by writing about the caregiving experience. And with that, I move closer to finding my true purpose.