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What You Need to be a Good Christian Steward of a Dementia Caregiving Journey?

What on earth does the commandment honor your father and mother have to do with being a good Christian steward in a dementia caregiving journey?

I invite you to listen to this episode, what do you need to be a good steward of a dementia caregiving journey to find out how I go from honoring your father and your mother to stewardship.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a profound journey that tests both the heart and spirit. As a caregiver, have you considered how your faith shapes your caregiving duties? This essential perspective can transform the often overwhelming task of dementia caregiving into a fulfilling act of love and stewardship.

0:33 Discovering a Loved One's Dementia Diagnosis
2:01 Defining Stewardship in Dementia Care
7:19 The Connection Between Honor and Stewardship
13:21 Warning Against Neglecting Self-Care
14:05 Importance of Prioritizing Caregiver Health
23:39 Utilizing Resources Effectively in Caregiving

Stewardship in Caregiving

At the heart of Christian caregiving is the concept of stewardship—managing everything God has entrusted to us, including our time, talents, and resources.

For caregivers, this means not only attending to a loved one's needs but also wisely managing your own well-being and responsibilities. Recognizing that all resources are God's provisions can inspire a balanced approach to caregiving.

Honoring Through Care

The principle of honoring one's parents can deeply influence dementia caregiving. This isn't just about providing physical care but also about preserving dignity and respect for your loved ones. It's about balancing your duties as a caregiver with other personal responsibilities, especially if you are caring for a spouse.

Here, caregiving becomes an extension of your marital support, emphasizing equality and mutual respect.

Practical Tips for Caregivers

1. Utilize Resources Wisely: 

Understand that you have limited time, energy, and financial resources. Prioritize tasks, delegate when possible, and seek community or professional support to maintain your own health.

2. Asset Protection: 

Early in the caregiving journey, consider speaking with an estate planning attorney to ensure your loved one’s assets are protected, and plans are in place for long-term care needs.

3. Build Respite Care into Your Routine: 

Ensure you have regular breaks to replenish your strength. This not only helps maintain your health but also improves the quality of care you provide.

For those feeling overwhelmed, remember that help is available. Engaging in structured support groups or coaching programs can provide practical advice and emotional support tailored to Christian caregivers. These programs often focus on the unique challenges of dementia caregiving, offering both community and expert guidance.

Conclusion

Caregiving in the context of dementia can be challenging but approaching it as a stewardship can bring immense spiritual fulfillment. By integrating your faith and practical strategies, you can provide compassionate care while honoring God and maintaining your well-being.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey—support and resources are available to help you navigate these challenging waters with grace and strength.

Read More:

Talking About Caregiver Burnout With Michelle Gordon

Check the other podcast: https://www.thinkdifferentdementia.com/category/podcast/

Listen to the Podcast

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Introduction to Dementia Caregiving Journey

[0:01] What on earth does the commandment honor your father and mother have to do with being a good steward in a dementia caregiving journey? I invite you to listen to episode 116, what do you need to be a good steward of a dementia caregiving journey to find out how I go from honoring your father and your mother to stewardship. So listen to today's episode.

Discovering a Loved One's Dementia Diagnosis

[0:34] Have you recently found out someone you love has dementia? Struggling to wrap your head around how to be a Christian caregiver? Searching for answers by joining countless Facebook groups, but find them toxic? Learning how to cope with dementia feels difficult, but learning a Christian caregiving worldview can be easy. Hey, brother and sister in Christ, I'm Lizette, occupational therapist, pastor's wife, turned dementia coach, and a daughter of dementia. In this podcast, you will learn the truth that the way to make dementia care easy is your faith. Knowing that a loving God has decreed this hard providence in your life makes all the difference. Here you will gain skills. You will be challenged by what God says in his word about caregiving, and you will learn exactly what dementia is and is not. Find clarity and certainty from God's word so you have perseverance for this journey. Use science-backed solutions and biblical principles to redeem your time. Praying this blesses you as we dive into dementia from a Christian perspective. Let's glorify God despite dementia.

Defining Stewardship in Dementia Care

[2:01] What is a good definition of stewardship? Well, as I was preparing for this episode, I really thought about that a lot. What is a good definition of stewardship? And how is stewardship relevant to a dementia caregiving journey? So stewardship, when we tend to think about it as a Christian, frequently all we consider or a lot of people consider is stewardship of time or stewardship of finances, financial resources, right? Times and things like that.

[2:38] But a broader definition of stewardship is that all resources, everything belongs to God. And as such, it is our responsibility as a good steward to manage everything.

[2:53] Everything God has entrusted to us. That is our time, our talents, being a dominion, taking dominion of the earth, your possession, your money, all of those kinds of things. But all of this plays together in a very unique way when you are a caregiver for a person living with dementia. So, in episode 116 today, we are going to look at what you need to be a good Christian steward of a dementia caregiving journey. And if you haven't yet, I would love to ask you if you are interested in a free guide that I have developed specifically for dementia caregivers who are Christians. After I spoke with a friend of mine, Angela, and asked her what would have been helpful to her at the beginning of her dementia caregiving journey, I have developed this guide. It's called How to Be a Christian Caregiver, 10 Disciplines for Dementia Caregiving, with some encouragement for you on your journey.

[4:09] The link is in the show notes. I invite you to go check it out. It's just a little guide that I wrote, but from a discipline perspective related to what kind of things, strategies and things can you put in place immediately when you're on this journey to help you. So today's episode is going to be unpacked in two topics. We're just going to look at it under two headings. So we talked a little bit about what is a definition of being a good steward, right? Managing everything God has entrusted to us, time, talents, dominion of earth, our possessions, money, everything. And that actually includes caregiving, and that includes our own health and well-being. The purpose of stewardship is something that I also reflected on. What is the purpose of being a good steward?

[5:15] Well, Westminster question and answer number one is one of my favorite. It is, what is the chief end of man? I am very excited to announce this next part of our journey together.

[5:31] Once a month on a Thursday evening, I'm going to do a segment called Ask the Dementia Coach, where you can actually come into a coaching session with me and other people if they register for the same time, so you can feel what it feels like to actually have dementia coaching. The reason I'm doing this is because I know so many of you guys are struggling on your own and may feel like you're at the end of your rope. And in order to help serve you better, I wanted to open up this opportunity once a month for you to register for a free Ask the Dementia Coach segment. Like I said, it will be Thursday evenings, once a month, 6 o'clock Eastern Time in the evening, and the segment is called Ask the Dementia Coach. So if you're interested in signing up for that, the link will be in the show notes below. And I look forward to seeing you on one of these special sessions. And the answer is man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

[6:55] So the purpose of stewardship is to glorify God by using all our talents, time, resources, etc. To his honor and to further his kingdom. So how does stewardship then relate to caregiving? So the first one I'm going to talk about is.

The Connection Between Honor and Stewardship

[7:19] Honor your father and your mother. And I know everybody's like, what? You went from stewardship to honor your father and mother? Lizette, how on earth did you get there? Well, it's not as far of a leap. I promise you, I do think about these things is what you realize. Because Because honoring your father and your mother is very, very much related to how you are going to be a steward in a dementia caregiving journey. West Minister Shorter Catechism 5 says, what is required in the Fifth Commandment, which is honor thy father and mother? And the answer to it is requiring the preserving of honor and performing the duties belonging to everyone in their several places and relations as superiors, inferiors, or equals. So let me unpack that for you for a second, and then I'll circle back to saying why it's related to stewardship and caregiving. because.

[8:35] Our relations are very important, and we're either a superior of somebody, an inferior of somebody, or equal to. For example, my neighbors who live behind me over here, they are married and they have an infant son. And he is their inferior to an extent because they're his parents. So he is their station if you would like to use that word is that they are his father and mother and as such they need he needs to honor them inferiors so that's inferiors superiors would be for example me related to say if i was working full-time and my relationship with my boss um that I need to honor my boss in the station that my boss is in related to that position that he is and then equals for example spouses so how is this relevant and why do I say our caregiving journey starts with honoring our father and our mother but in particular the answer to this question of what is required of us, right?

[9:55] Preserving the honor and performing the duties belonging to everyone in their several places and relations as superiors, inferiors, or equals. I am the daughter of two parents with cognitive loss. They are my parents. I honor my mom and dad, But I honor my mom and dad through the lens that my primary responsibility, since I have left and cleaved with my husband and established a different household, is that of a equal. And it is subservient or secondary to my husband and my relationship, not as my parents are more important than our relationship because we left and cleaved. I'm willing to help my parents, but it comes from the position of strength using this stewardship principle of honoring my father and my mother in the regard of where I am now in my relations and places, related to my parents. My parents cannot expect me to.

[11:11] Put my life on hold to take care of them. I'm willing to help them. We're willing to support my parents, but we have put boundaries on what that looks like based on my husband and I, our relationship, because that is what comes first. So if you are a spouse of somebody living with dementia, you are equals. And so your caregiving journey starts from that position of being that person's helpmate, whether it's a husband helping a wife or a wife helping a husband. You do come to it from an equal based on your role and responsibilities. But that doesn't necessarily mean that in order to be a good steward of a Christian dementia caregiving journey that you throw your own health and well-being under the bus. And we're going to talk about that in the second point here in a couple of minutes. So, dementia caregiving really does start with the fifth commandment and our roles based on the requirements of our several relations.

[12:26] Whether we be superiors, inferiors, or equals. So, some practical tips for that is you have to to start with your relationship position. It frames your stewardship relationship. It frames how you are going to manage everything, everything God has entrusted to you, your time, your talents, your possessions, your money, your ability to provide care. All of that effort that you put in, All of that has to be stewarded well and wisely. And just because you are a caregiver does not mean that that particular role and responsibility takes over your life. It has to be, we have to be good stewards of everything.

Warning Against Neglecting Self-Care

[13:18] And God does give us the ability to do that. We just need to know how to do it. And then remember, as a caregiver, you are also, and this is vitally important because this is something I see people struggle with all the time. The statistics are staggering how many caregivers die before the person that they're helping. One of the statistics that I've seen, it's hard to track, but between 18 to 41% of family caregivers of a person living with dementia will actually die before the person that they are helping.

[13:53] And so remember, as a caregiver, to be a good steward, that also means you have to be a good steward of your own body, which means you have to take care of yourself.

Importance of Prioritizing Caregiver Health

[14:05] One of the challenges that many caregivers face is that they put their own health care on hold. They don't go to the doctor for themselves. They don't take care of themselves. They don't go to the gym. They don't eat well. They don't do any, you know, they're throwing their health under the bus. And so being a good steward includes being a good steward of yourself.

[14:28] Your own physicality, and more importantly, your spiritual relationship with God. But I want you to also recognize that it is important for you to physically take care of yourself. So the second point today is we're going to talk about how to utilize resources well. So since we're talking about stewardship, just how to utilize resources well. Did you know about one person living with dementia, the lifetime cost of one person living with dementia is about 400,000 is what the research shows. I pulled this statistic out of the Alzheimer's Association Annual Facts and Figures Report from 2023, about roughly 400,000, and 70% of that is provided by the family. So that is a lot of money. That is a buttload full of money. And it's not necessarily dollars per se, it is economical value of dollars provided by unpaid caregiving. So dementia caregiving is an extremely costly process.

[15:43] And so there are three resources that you need to know how to use wisely. The first one is time.

[15:52] Time is a resource, and we do not think about that. The second one is money, and the third one is effort. Okay, so let's look at time real quick. The first thing you have to consider related to time is you have to prioritize all of your tasks. Everybody only gets a 24-hour day, and caregiving cannot be a 24-hour one-person job. It cannot be. You have to prioritize time related to your actual physical caregiving tasks, taking care of yourself, taking care of your spiritual health and well-being. You have to prioritize building in systems and planning ahead for these things.

[16:40] Routine, creating a consistent routine will help you save time over a period of time. And another way that you can save time and we'll talk about this again in effort is to delegate tasks we as family caregivers of somebody living with dementia who are christians do not like to ask other people for help people are willing to help us we have to ask and we have to ask specifically we have to say i need help with mowing the lawn three times a month or once a month or every other week. Deacons, please help. I really would love if somebody could bring us a meal once a week so that I just can take a time off. I would love for somebody to come sit with my husband so that I can go to Bible study with my women fellowship group. So time prioritizing, routine, and then delegating. Did you know that caring for a person with dementia doesn't have to be this hard? If you are struggling and you would like to join our next free workshop.

[17:56] The topic of the workshop is three tips how to avoid challenging dementia behaviors without stress, anxiety, or burnout. I invite you to walk away with science-backed, dementia caregiving skills that many professionals don't even know after attending this free workshop on Saturday. If you'd like to register, message me the word workshop on Instagram or check out the link in the show notes below.

[18:40] The second one related to utilizing resources well is money. We need to pre-plan. We need to pre-plan way earlier than we want to. And I'm not just talking about who's going to get what or how much money we have, but asset protection. If you do not have a good estate planning attorney, go talk to an estate planning attorney. and we wait too long. And Medicaid has a provision that you can do asset protection, but it has a five-year look-back period, which means that if you wait, you will use all your assets in order to provide the care. So immediately when somebody is diagnosed, I recommend they look at asset protection. I'm not an attorney. I'm not suggesting that you listen to my advice on it, but what I want you to do is find a good estate planning attorney that understands asset protection. So planning ahead, pre-planning earlier, really looking at how we can utilize your limited financial resources to the best of your ability. The third resource that you have to use wisely is your effort, energy, your energy. We all only have a certain amount of energy every single day.

[20:09] So you have to find ways to save your emotional and physical effort, right? We don't think of effort as a resource, but it is something that we expend. We expend effort to do things. So we have to save effort in a dementia caregiving journey or else you will burn out. I do a daily discipline related to my business. And one of the 10 disciplines is don't do a $25 an hour job, right? As a CEO of a company, you do not want to do a $25 per hour job. You want to do the jobs that are going to create revenue. So as a family caregiver of somebody living with dementia, you also have to delegate and elevate, and you cannot just do everything everything and expend that effort, and I don't necessarily mean it from a monetary perspective, but what I'm asking you to consider, yes, you might be able to mow the lawn.

[21:15] Is that truly the best utilization of your limited resources and effort? So that because if you've expended that resource in mowing the lawn because you have the capacity to do it, that may mean that you do not now have the capacity to take care of yourself, to go to the gym or to go and have a massage or to go and fellowship with a friend or to go have a cup of coffee. So you have to delegate tasks off of you as a family caregiver to save your emotional and physical effort. The second way that you can save your emotional and physical effort is to manage your expectations.

[22:00] Frustration is very frequently found in the gap of unmet expectations. You have an expectation the person needs to be doing something, and they're not able to do it anymore, and you get frustrated, and you expend effort trying to fix that when it is not something that is fixable.

[22:22] So manage your expectations. Have a solid understanding of where the person you are helping really is related to their dementia and dementia caregiving journey. And then a third way related to effort that I really want you to consider doing is building respite in early and often. Immediately, immediately when you know somebody is living with dementia, you need to start building in respite services, respite care, respite periods into the fabric of the flow of the caregiving journey. And that is how you be a good steward of your limited resources, which is you, your energy, your effort, your abilities.

[23:14] You have to be able to replenish yourself. A good analogy is you cannot pour from an empty cup, right? Right. So if you are pouring yourself out and your cup is empty, you are not going to be able to provide the best level of care.

holding hand with family caregiver Every Child Of Dementia Needs To Know

Utilizing Resources Effectively in Caregiving

[23:32] And then you have inadvertently become a poor steward of your resources. You're not using your resources wisely. So what's a practical solution for the utilizing your resources wisely is I really do want you to consider joining a paid program and not necessarily mine. If I don't resonate with you, that's okay. I do want you to find a paid program that you can join because a paid program will save you time. It will save you money because you're pre-planning and it will save you effort.

[24:11] So by joining a group coaching program, I have two levels of support that you can receive from me. One is a group coaching program where we develop plans together, where I teach you the skills that you need, and we work on your capacity to actually provide care using biblical principles. Or I have one-on-one ways, concierge level services that we can work together and we put together a comprehensive plan for you. So you have two ways that if I resonate with you, that you could save yourself time, money, and effort by actually joining a paid program. It's very counterintuitive to people because they believe that by banking their money or by not taking the time to learn that they are actually being good stewards. But as I've learned through starting a business, I have to invest in things in order to get a return on whatever. For example, marketing. For me, marketing has been quite challenging, and I really have to invest in somebody to give me the right words to put on the paper to bring the right people.

[25:27] And I have two choices. I can keep reading all the books because I'm a reader. I can listen to all the podcasts, but I don't actually have anybody who can help me implement. And so when I pay somebody to help me with my marketing, I am saving myself time. I'm saving myself frustration and effort. And over the long run, I'm saving myself money because I'm not making stupid mistakes over and over again.

[25:53] So to quickly recap today's episode, what do you need to be a good Christian steward of a dementia caregiving journey? We looked at it in two brief points. The first one is that you have to come from it from a position of honoring your father and mother. And what I meant by that is preserving the honor and performing the duties belonging to everyone in their several places, relations, places and relations as superiors, inferiors, or equals. So you have to start with the relationship that you're in as a family caregiver. And then the second point was utilizing resources wisely. And we looked at that in three points. We looked at time, money, and effort. And then I gave you an invitation that if I resonate with you to check out the group coaching program, the group mentorship, the group guidance that we offer, which is a very affordable one price per year. So go check it out. Or if I resonate with you, you can check out how to work with me one-on-one. All of that information is in the show notes. You can check it out on my website, thinkdifferentdementia.com.

[27:13] And as I share with you every time I end an episode. May the Lord bless you and keep you. And I do hope you come back and listen to more. And if you like these episodes, please share with a Christian family who might be struggling with a dementia caregiving journey.

[27:34] Thanks for joining me today, Success Seeker. I pour my heart and soul into this program to serve review. You can serve me by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts and join our free Facebook group, Dementia Caregiving for Families. It's a positive and proactive space to navigate dementia caregiving together. Get practical tools and find support, but without the verbal vomit. Be a part of our community where we seek to find peace of mind and ease despite the dementia diagnosis. So join today and see you next time as our flight takes off.

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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