Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”
This challenge posed to us back in 1957 by Martin Luther King speaks to us today with a message whose meaning is timeless and inspirational in any context. In our capacity hosting Memory Care communities, we connect it to the many caregivers we’ve met who sacrifice daily caring for loved ones with dementia. They certainly inspire all of us – and deserve to be inspired themselves. That’s not always easy in the trenches, as many if you may know from experience. In the spirit of this month when we honor Dr. King, here are some inspirational words for the caregivers out there who work so hard to make a difference for others:
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. — Eleanor Roosevelt
There’s a lot about caregiving that can feel like “one step forward, two steps back”. Its path is not always linear, just like dementia itself; and there can be a fair amount of second-guessing, regret, and anxiety. These wise words remind us how much caregivers can spare themselves those feelings by being mindful of living in the moment.
Sometimes there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway. – Emory Austin
Remember that song that urged us to “smile though your heart is aching”? There’s actual scientific data that supports the notion that smiling when we’re upset truly makes us feel better. A positive attitude can go a long way on those days that can feel particularly unrewarding or frustrating when the people you’re taking care of aren’t able to give much back.
God gave burdens; he also gave shoulders. – Yiddish Proverb
This notion of turning to others for help can be a tough one for caregivers, whose default position is often one of self-reliance. The site Caregiver.org reports that family caregivers are statistically less likely to practice preventive self-care than non-caregivers, and often suffer from the belief that “If I don’t do it, no one will”. Letting others share the burden is critical not only to maintain physical wellbeing, but for mental stamina as well. We’ve got some helpful tips for caregivers on how to reach out for support from others; you can read those here.
Keep in mind that caregiving is temporary: the scenario is sure to change, and someday you will no longer be a caregiver. Try to … cherish this bonus time with your loved one. – excerpted from The Conscious Caregiver by Linda Abbit
This mindset can be elusive in the day-to-day demands of dementia care, but is so important to tap into. Remembering that caregiving is by nature a temporary situation can go a long way in helping caregivers access the patience they need to keep going on the rough days, and even inspire feelings of gratitude that can transcend the tough challenges at hand.
If you’re a caregiver and would like to share what inspires you, we’d love to hear it! Tell us in the comments.