FIND OUT EXACTLY HOW YOU ARE DOING AS A DEMENTIA CAREGIVER

TAKE ASSESSMENT

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Have you ever wondered what it truly takes to be an effective caregiver for a loved one with dementia? This episode explores six crucial qualities every dementia caregiver should develop, particularly from a Christian viewpoint.

Qualities of Every Dementia Caregiver Should Develop

1. Creativity in Caregiving

Creativity tops the list of necessary traits. Caregivers often need to innovate daily solutions to overcome routine challenges. This could mean adapting the home environment to better suit the cognitive changes your loved one experiences or finding new ways to engage and soothe them through creative activities.

2. Unwavering Patience

Patience is more than a virtue in dementia care; it's a necessity. As dementia progresses, your loved one might repeat questions, forget recent events, or become agitated over minor issues. Here, patience is not just waiting out a difficult moment but actively choosing compassion over frustration.

3. Flexibility Within Structure

While routines are comforting to those with dementia, flexibility is also crucial. Being able to adjust your approach without disrupting the overall structure of the day can help manage unexpected behaviors and changes in mood. This balance between predictability and adaptability helps create a less stressful environment for both of you.

4. Compassionate Communication

Approach each interaction with compassion, remembering that the behaviors and confusion are symptoms of the disease, not choices your loved one is making. Compassionate communication involves using kind words, offering reassurances, and being sensitive to their struggles, helping maintain their dignity.

5. Resilience to Stress

Caregiving is undoubtedly stressful. Developing resilience can help you handle the emotional highs and lows of caregiving without becoming overwhelmed. This might involve setting aside time for prayer, meditation, or simply taking regular breaks to maintain your mental and emotional health.

6. A Sense of Humor

Finally, a healthy sense of humor can be one of your best tools. It allows you to navigate the more challenging days with a lighter heart and can be a source of joy and connection with your loved one. Laughter can ease tension and is often a welcome respite from the more demanding aspects of caregiving.

Conclusion: Embracing the Journey with Grace

Each of these qualities fosters a nurturing and positive environment for both caregiver and the one receiving care. By embodying these traits, you can not only improve the care experience but also find a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment in your caregiving journey, supported by your faith and the community around you.

Read More:

Talking About Caregiver Burnout With Michelle Gordon

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

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Introduction

[0:00] Have you ever heard anybody say you need to be a nutty caregiver? Or have you ever heard anybody tell you as a dementia caregiver that you need to be a rhino? Well, if you are curious about that, I invite you to listen to today's episode 115, where we unpack six qualities that dementia caregivers need to have most from a Christian perspective. So I'm super excited that you are here, and I would love for you to be a part of this podcast on our website, thinkdifferentdementia.com forward slash podcasts. You can record a 90-second question question for me to actually answer for you on the podcast. So, I invite you to go check it out, send me a message, and then I will record you a personal answer that will be presented on the podcast. So, go check it out.

[1:16] Have you recently found out someone you love has dementia, 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 From a Christian perspective, let's glorify God despite dementia.

Qualities of an Effective Dementia Caregiver

[2:43] What is one of the most frequently asked questions that I get as a dementia mentor or coach is, what qualities or what skills or what things does a person need to be or to have to be an effective dementia caregiver? And this particular answer can be very multifactorial. And today we are going to explore that in six different qualities that all dementia caregivers need to have for a successful dementia caregiving journey. So in episode 115, what do dementia caregivers need most? A Christian perspective, today we are going to look at that in those six different qualities.

[3:45] But before we start the full episode, I would love to invite you, if I resonate with you, specifically since we are now moving towards a Christian-based podcast, I recently developed a guide for family caregivers who are Christians, and it's called the How to Be a Christian caregiver.

[4:14] 10 disciplines for dementia caregiving that I would love for you to come and get. And the link for that will be in the show notes. I almost called it the 10 commandments of dementia caregiving, but I decided that I didn't want to be quite as forward and step on the Lord's toes related to calling it a commandment, because it's not a commandment. But at the same time, these are 10 disciplines that you can incorporate into your life as a family caregiver who is a Christian on a dementia caregiving journey. So the link is in the show notes. Go check it out. I would love for you to get it and give me feedback related to whether or not it was helpful. So back to the episode. What are six qualities or six, yeah, qualities is the best word that all dementia caregivers need most? Well.

[5:24] I'm originally from South Africa, and when I graduated as an occupational therapist in South Africa, moving to the United States was quite challenging for me, because in South Africa, we didn't have a lot of these pre-made things that are so common here in the United States. So as a new grad moving to the States, I did not have much of an awareness or an ability to just go and order a piece of equipment because we didn't have that in South Africa.

[6:01] So for many, many years, I have called myself the MacGyver OT. Now, why on earth would I talk about being a MacGyver OT? OT. Well, the reason for me calling myself a MacGyver OT is because I am extremely, extremely creative. And I remember working in home health where I would go with other therapists and I would stand in the person's house and I would scan the environment and see what they had available if they needed a piece of equipment, and actually see if I could make it for them. So that's how I got to call myself the MacGyver OT. Now, why the MacGyver OT? Well, the first quality that a successful family caregiver needs most related to caregiving is creativity. Now, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, question and answer nine, we learn about what is the work of creation. And in summary, it is God making all things from nothing by the word of his power in the space of six days and all very good. Now, my.

[7:24] My creative ability is not the same as God's creative ability, but because I am created in the image of God, we all as image bearers are creative, even though we don't necessarily think of ourselves as creative because maybe we're not an artist or maybe we're not a musician or write music or write books or any of those types of things. But every single person is designed to be creative because we are created in the image of God. And so one of the most important qualities for a Christian caregiver to have is to be creative. And we have to be creative in multiple different ways when we are a dementia caregiver. We have to be able to look at the situation and then try something new. And we might have to try things a few times. It may not work the first time.

[8:33] We may not stumble on the right solution immediately. But if you look at whatever problem you are facing related to caregiving, from a how can I create a solution to that problem, we can come up with very creative solutions. One of our group members right now, his wife has the behavior or the challenging difficulty that she paces all the time. And one of the things that she always does is goes to the door. And so in working with with our group member I've been trying to come up with very creative solutions to see how we could decrease her pacing to make it a little bit easier for our group member and one of the solutions the creative solutions that I came up with was let us look and see whether or not we can recreate or create the door to actually look like something else. This is a strategy, a technique that is successfully used in a memory care facility and other types of facilities where they hide the doors behind artwork. work.

[10:00] So obviously in a house, it's a little bit harder to create a mural or something on the door. But I thought to myself.

[10:09] I am very excited to announce this next part of our journey together. 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, six 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.

[11:34] How could we be creative and see if we could come up with a solution to that particular problem to see whether or not we could cut down on this particular challenge? So the solution we have devised that we've come up with is I recommended to him to buy a shower curtain that looks like a, bookshelf because a bookshelf is something that you would normally find in most people's houses or as something that we are all used to seeing, right? A door with a handle, even if you aren't actively trying to get out, the normal thing when you see a closed door is you want to open it and go through the door, right? So putting a sign on the door saying stop is not an effective strategy. What do you do at a stop street? You stop the car and then you go. Oh, so using a sign at a door saying stop hasn't been successful for most people.

[12:37] Sometimes other signs can work, those kinds of things. Signs that say staff only or wrong way or other creative signage can be another solution. But what we tried and so far, we're still trialing to see exactly how it is going to work. But the shower curtain, he actually attached to the door, and the first time she came around the wall and she saw the bookshelf, she stopped, she looked at it, and she turned around and walked away. Now, I'm not saying that the strategy is going to be 100% effective 100% of the time, but at least 100%. Right now, I'm very encouraged that maybe we can cut down on some of her pacing by giving her a visual cue that would be something common to a house. So that is a creative way, a very creative way that we have attempted to solve a particular problem related to dementia and dementia caregiving. So three practical tips for you related to creativity. creativity, try a technique you know.

[13:53] Most of us are listening to podcasts or maybe on a Facebook group. There are good things out there related to those groups, but if you see a solution or something that you want to try, try the solution. If it doesn't work, then you try to be creative and adjust it. So for example, in the case of the one person that I worked with many years ago, where we tried certain signs, they worked for about two weeks, then we had to be creative and try a different sign related to not going into a particular bathroom. So signs can be very, very effective, but just realize that sometimes we have to be able to alter them and be creative within the solution. And another practical tip related to a creative solution is simplify.

[14:51] The strategy, simplify the task as a creative solution. So another creative solution that I've come up with for women sometimes who have always worn, you know, very well put together clothes, and now that they're having a hard time picking out their clothes, a creative solution that we've come up with was we, this was way back when, when you still took photos, but we put together outfits for her and took photos of it and put everything together so she could look through her book, find a photo of an outfit that she wanted to wear. Her staff member, she was in a facility, would go pick out the clothes and the resident would get dressed. So simplify, like that was a creative way to simplify getting dressed and picking out the appropriate clothing for the occasion.

[15:47] So that's the first one. The second one, quality, second quality that all dementia caregivers need most is being flexible but routined. Now, I know those two things sound maybe a little bit like it's an oxymoron. How can you be flexible but routined? Well, Well, flexibility can come in a lot of different forms. Now, I'm an extremely flexible, not physically flexible, but I'm an extremely flexible person. I can go with the flow very easily. I'm extremely adaptable. I can change on a dime, and I call it the flying by the seat of my pants, right? The reality is that a person living with dementia, they, over time, lose their ability to be flexible. So they really need the structured routine. But within that flexibility but routine, what I'm, What I'm wanting people to do is have a structured routine, but within that routine, be flexible.

[17:05] And you are, unfortunately, as this process is continuing to develop with a person that you're helping, there's only one of the two of you that can be flexible, and that is you and not the person that you're helping. thing. So one of the people in one of my groups actually called me earlier today. And if you're listening to this podcast later on, shout out to you. You know who you are. I'm going not to mention your name. I will ask you next time if I can use your name, just your first name. But earlier today, I had a conversation with a member of my group that is really struggling with this needing to change to accommodate the changes of the person that she is helping. And it was evident that it was a little bit frustrating, and I totally understand that. It is frustrating. It's frustrating to me that I'm the only one that can change in the relationship with my parents.

[18:16] My husband and I are the only ones that have the capacity to change and be flexible. So it is very, very hard, and I recognize that it is hard for us because our relationships are fairly well established, right? We have long patterns of interacting with people, and now the people that we're interacting with, they cannot interact the same way they have always interacted. Right.

[18:45] What it results with is if you, as the family caregiver who is helping that person, when we lose the ability to be flexible at that moment in time, we actually become frustrated. And that's when it becomes difficult and challenging because it is hard. It is hard to be the one who is always adjusting. But the reality of the matter is the person living with dementia, they are not going to be able to be flexible. So we have to be. So the strategy, the practical tip I gave her today was for her to reframe what she was thinking about all of the changes that she has to make and reframe that in a more positive way by saying to herself, self, yes, I understand that I have to change whatever this thing is. I have to change how I cook or I have to change how I interact with the person. But if you reframe that and say, when I change how I cook so that the person is not picking at their food or when I change, how I respond to whatever it is.

[20:11] What I am doing is I'm creating these opportunities for my person not to get frustrated, for my person not to get angry, for me not to experience frustration. So when we're struggling with the flexibility component, ask yourself to reframe it into a positive way and say to yourself, when I do these things, the result is that my person is not as frustrated or annoyed or we're going round and round arguing and we've stopped that in its tracks. Yet again, I understand it is hard to be the only one in a relationship who constantly feels like they're the only one contributing to the dynamic and the interaction, but the reality is that the person is living with actual physical changes to their brain and is not going to be able to be flexible and change. And then you can, by being flexible, you can anticipate what's coming next.

[21:29] We talk about that quite a lot related to retrogenesis, and I'll do a full episode on that later on. But Matthew 6 verse 34 also talks about do not be anxious for tomorrow. So when we are flexible, we allow ourselves to not create anxiety in ourselves related to what is coming next. So having three practical tips is...

[22:02] Having a structured routine, because routine is somebody living with dementia's friend. We all are creatures of routine. We don't think about it, but every single day, if you just stop and think about it, you do the same stuff about the same time and about the same sequence. I always put my right arm in a shirt when I get dressed. Some people put their left arm in, right? We all have a very structured routine. I don't use an alarm clock anymore. And every single day consistently, I wake up between 6 and 6.15 in the morning. So we have structured routine.

[22:40] But the second part of that, the second practical tip is to go with the flow and to be able to be flexible and to adjust and be creative back to point number one. And then this is the biggest turnaround for me as a professional who has been recommending to people strategies for 30 years now is that I've always taught people that we don't want to take a person living with dementia out of their normal structured routine because it will perhaps create more opportunities for some confusion. After being on that cruise for 10 days with people who had moderately to severe deficits and difficulty with their thinking processes, what I actually realized is it is vitally important to take a trip and make memories. So being flexible and taking a trip, This episode is airing on May 9th, 8th, or should be airing on May 8th. And so we have Memorial Day coming up. Take your loved one places. Go for a trip. Go to the beach. It's lovely.

[24:01] This time of year. Take a trip, make memories, take photos. So that's the second point. The third point for today is patience is a virtue. Now, patience is not my strong point.

[24:19] I am not a very patient person. And what I found interesting is as I started doing these podcasts and as I started recording more videos.

[24:32] I noticed where some of my impatience actually comes out. And yes, it is a terrible sin. And yes, I'm significantly better at managing and controlling my anger than I was when I was younger. I flew off the handle at the drop of a a pin. But what I noticed one day as I was doing a recording with a video recording.

[25:03] My impatience, when I'm impatient, it comes out as anger. So the situation was I'm doing a recording, I'm trying to get it all done. And my husband started doing something, I don't even remember what it was. And I flew off the handle. I didn't fly off the handle, but I turned and I yelled something to him that I didn't even recognize that I was angry until I watched the video. And then I'm like, oh, wow, that was quite not good because my whole countenance changed, changed my whole response, my voice, my tone of voice, everything. So it is one of my biggest struggles is to control anger. And for me, anger comes out frequently when I'm impatient.

[26:04] And I know that it is very, like we talked about, it feels very unfair that we as the caregivers givers are the only ones who always need to accommodate, right? It can feel super frustrating because in a normal relationship beforehand, whether we're a spouse, whether we're a child, our relationship was different. And both people have to accommodate in a normal relationship. It's 100% my giving and 100% their giving in order to create a good, stable, healthy relationship. But now as a person's brain is physically changing.

[26:50] They are not able to accommodate and change and be flexible to your interactions and needs. And I want you to think about it. When we were raising our children, we were very, very much more apt to be patient, right? Because we recognized that those children, those babies, babies have not yet developed the skill or the capacity to be able to do a particular skill. My neighbors next door have an infant. He just turned one years old, and I know they're getting to the point where he's going to be ready to learn how to walk, right? So when we're helping a baby learn how to walk, we are super patient with them. We'll hold their fingers. We'll walk with them. We'll do all these extra things because that child does not have the ability or the capacity to do that particular task. And so I want you to consider, as the person that you're helping, as their brain is changing.

[28:04] They do not have those physical components in their brain. The wiring is not there anymore. So think big gaps and messages not going through. So they physically sometimes do not have the ability to do the thing that they're supposed to do. And then you throw on top of that the thinking part of it. And they are even less sometimes apt able to do the things that they normally do.

[28:40] Very easily would have done. And so one of the big things that I really want to impress on you today is that patience is absolutely a virtue and it is also a fruit of the spirit, right? As Galatians 5 verse 22 talks about. And dementia caregiving is a part of our sanctification process.

[29:09] So what is sanctification? I use Westminster Shorter Catechism is just a framework that we use a creed to help to summarize the Bible. It is not the Bible, but it is an accurate summary of the Bible. And the Westminster Shorter Catechism talks about sanctification being a work of God's grace, where we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God and are enabled to die unto sin and live unto righteousness. And so being patient and learning patience as a fruit of the Spirit and a whole dementia caregiving journey is a part of our sanctification to learn how to die to sin and to live unto to righteousness? And I really love this answer because it talks about, yet again, after the image of God, which circles back to my first point of God is God created the world in six days out of nothing, and we are created in the image of God, and so therefore we are creative.

[30:25] So three practical tips I want you to consider when you are getting impatient. You take a time out, not them, right? We're not going to put mom in the corner and we're not going to put you in the corner. But what I'm recommending is as long as the person is safe.

[30:45] If you were getting impatient, withdraw yourself from the situation and reset and retool and just take a time out and then come back later. So that's the first thing. The second thing, a real practical tip is remember Christ's patience with us. So when we are being impatient, we have to remember God's vast patience with us every single day, day in, day out. And then the third thing is if you truly are very, if your, personality hasn't always been somebody like me who tends to be more impatient and you're starting to notice yourself becoming impatient, that tells me you are in a symptom of overwhelm and it is time to build in respite and breaks. We need to build in respite and breaks earlier and more often than what we already do. So the fourth point that we're going to talk about in today's episode is compassion. So what is compassion?

[32:00] Compassion is a deep awareness and sympathy for another's difficulty. The other word that can be used here is suffering. Now, I have chosen specifically not to use the word suffering because people living with dementia are not suffering.

[32:22] I made this mistake once in a large Facebook group to talk about somebody living with dementia, people living with dementia as suffering, suffering from dementia. And I was schooled by a person living with dementia that they are living with dementia. They are not suffering from dementia. So it's just a choice, a cognitive choice, an active choice I have taken to not call people living with dementia as suffering from dementia, but compassion is a deep awareness and sympathy for another's difficulty, being moved and characterized by care and kindness.

[33:05] Compassion is proactive. It is a response to lessen pain and is a part of mercy. So what is mercy. Mercy is unmerited favor. None of us deserve mercy, right? It is unmerited favor. God grants us mercy. So Luke 10 verse 33 is the passage about the Good Samaritan, right? So what happened in the story of the Good Samaritan? He came upon the person who had been robbed and felt compassion, and he took care of his needs. It was a proactive approach to taking care of another person's need. So 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.

[34:11] 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.

[34:55] As we are working through a dementia caregiving journey, one of the qualities that we need as a caregiver, what we need most is to be compassionate. And Colossians 3 verse 12 talks about putting on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And so we've kind of talked about patience and we've talked about kindness and compassion here today. So two practical tips here.

[35:27] I want you to consider when we are talking about being compassionate, the person that you are helping who is living with dementia would not likely have been doing this before they lost the ability to control this, right? They would not actively, for the most part, right? People aren't actively trying to do the things that we see people living with dementia struggle with. They're doing these things, the responses we're getting, the changes that we see are due to actual physical changes in the brain that we cannot see. So it's easy when, for example, you see a person who has lost a limb, an arm or a leg or whatever, they don't have it anymore. It is easy to see the inability to do something when they don't have their prosthesis on. Or somebody in a wheelchair who has a spinal cord injury from an old car accident that cannot move their legs. We can see their inability to do that particular movement or action because.

[36:50] They have a real reason for it. On the flip side, because the changes are in a person's brain.

[36:58] The wiring in their brain is not working. It's changing on a cellular level.

[37:07] But because they look the same, it is very easy for us to believe that the person is doing this on purpose. And they likely would not have done this before, and they have lost the ability to control it because of these actual changes. So, extending practical tip number two, extending compassion, even when it is not deserved, is merciful, just like God is merciful to me and to you. So yet again, what is mercy? Mercy is unmerited favor. Mercy and compassion walk hand in hand. So I want to encourage you in this journey, as hard as it is, to not, you know, to truly try to be compassionate to the person that you're helping. The fifth point today is don't take it personal. Now, this is super hard, and I totally get that. I know that it is very difficult to sometimes not take things personally, because from the beginning of our relationship, you know, my parents have known me my whole life.

[38:26] We have developed patterns of interaction in our relationship, patterns of communicating, good patterns and bad patterns. When we are married with our spouses, we have developed patterns of communicating with our spouses, good patterns and bad patterns. Me as a mom, I've made.

[38:49] Super many mistakes with my kids in raising them. Like I said, one of my big challenges is anger. And I'm sure I inadvertently took it. Well, I did not control my anger and took it out of my kids a lot when they were younger. But oftentimes, these communication patterns are now, as we are going through a dementia caregiving journey, these old patterns of insults and injury come back out, right? In a normal relationship between two people who neither have any problem with their thinking, both people are constantly adjusting and readjusting and adjusting.

[39:32] Giving 100% to that relationship. And when we can communicate in a normal relationship in that way, we both change. We both give up. And now as we are in our dementia caregiving journey, the reality is only one of us can change. And that is unfortunately me as the caregiver. It is not the person who is living with dementia who has that ability to change.

Reframing Challenges and Flexibility

[40:02] So we have to keep it in the front of our our mind to not take it personal. I recognize how difficult that is specifically, and I've shared the story before, but related to my dad and the car. We had a lot of conflict when I had to take the car away. And now when we drive places, I'm the one that changes because I recognize my dad is not able to change.

[40:31] And so as we go places, I will drive there the way I want to drive because I have a specific road that I feel is the best. And there are lots of ways of getting around Greenville, South Carolina.

[40:46] But on my way home, I will ask my dad which way he would like me to take because what I've recognized now for him is that when I wasn't doing that, I was taking it personal because the GPS is telling me this is a better road and I can see the traffic and I want to get home and I've got all the stuff to do. But now I've also softened a little and I'm giving, compassion to my dad and I drive home in a different way every single time so that he can see different things because he really, really misses being able to get out and about on his own. So practical tip. I encourage you to become a little bit of a rhinoceros and get a thick skin because the person that you are helping is not going to be able to change this. And so yes, they are going to say things that may hurt your feelings. Do not take it personal. And then go to the Lord in prayer. Give your complaints, your laments to God about the loss of your relationship the way it is, and ask the Lord to give you more of what you need in order to be able to manage this more effectively.

[42:08] And then really probably one of the biggest things is in a normal relationship, when both people are able to change, when one person is wrong in a good, healthy, godly marriage, we will come to one another and ask for forgiveness. And so as a husband and a wife where somebody now has dementia, this person is sinning against you. I recognize that in a thought, word, or deed, but by measure of the process, the condition that they're in, they really cannot control it. And so you have to have a spirit, you have to have a willingness, a posture of being willing to forgive that person, even though they are not able to ask you for forgiveness. You need to be willing to, if they should ask you in a moment of clarity, I'm sorry, I feel like I have sinned against you because I'm acting out or I'm angry or I'm pacing or I'm frustrated. If they were to ask you for forgiveness, you need to be willing to forgive that person.

[43:28] You can only forgive somebody when they ask you for forgiveness. So you have to have a posture of being willing to be forgiven because, yes, inadvertently, this person is likely sinning against you in certain situations,

Maintaining Humor in Caregiving

[43:46] in certain times. Times but if you keep that posture of being willing to forgive you will not become resentful because if you're not willing to forgive that is where we start to harbor frustration and anger and resentment to the person that we are helping that we love, The sixth point today is humor. You need to maintain a healthy, healthy sense of humor as a family caregiver of somebody living with dementia.

[44:23] Jolene Brakey wrote a book called Creating Moments of Joy, and it is one of my favorite books related to dementia and dementia Caregiving, where she talks about becoming the nutty caregiver. So what is a nutty caregiver? A nutty caregiver is somebody who is flexible, creative, adaptable, patient, and comes up with all sorts of different ways of interacting with the person to then create these moments of joy. So an example of being a nutty caregiver can be, you know, you can't get mom to do what mom needs to do. So you give her a couple of minutes, walk out the door, go change your clothes, put a hat on or whatever, because you've got to go to the doctor and say, hey, we got to go and see if she'll come with you then. By being the nutty caregiver, by being creative, by trying different things and really honestly creating moments of joy.

[45:23] Keep your sense of humor. It is going to be well worth it. And write them down because you're going to want to have remembered some of the good things. I did an interview with another person for the podcast earlier this week, and she was talking about her grandmother and there was a photo of her sitting on an armrest right next to her grandmother and her grandmother didn't recognize her from the photo and that they just laughed about it because it was kind of humorous because she was literally sitting right next to her grandmother and to make it, to find the humor in it instead of to find the tragedy. And we don't use humor to mock the person, but we want humor. We want to create these moments of joy so that they can be a stress relief. And we do not want to do things that are going to embarrass the person, but we want to do things that are going to just bring everybody together and just give you a sense of connecting, connecting with the person that you are helping. So a couple of practical tips here is number one, let your creative out. Go for it. Find creative outlets. I sing a lot. I don't sing well, but I sing a lot when I'm trying to be very creative and making moments of joy.

[46:52] I sing psalms a lot to psalms and hymns to people that I work with. Because that's a wonderful place to connect. And then find the fun in the situation. I'll never forget my kids when they were little. One of my daughters reminded me of this the other day, they're 27 and 25. One is grown, one is married, both are grown and flown. But my older daughter reminded me of a time when they were little, and they remember this, I do not remember this, that one day I just, up at the dining room table, up and just threw some food at her. And we started a full-on food fight. So find the fun in the situation.

[47:38] Proverbs 17, verse 22, talks about a joyful heart being good medicine. So today's episode was maybe a little longer, but I kind of enjoyed this one. We were talking about what do dementia caregivers need most from a Christian perspective. I believe all dementia caregivers need this, but this is from a Christian perspective. The first thing is we want to be creative. The second thing is we really need to be flexible, but routined. The third thing is patience is a virtue. The fourth thing was compassion, understanding that compassion and mercy are very similar, and mercy is unmerited favor. The fifth thing is not to take it personal. And the sixth one is humor, to find humor in the situation. So I hope you have found benefit from today's episode. I know this was jam-packed.

[48:46] And full of value, my ask for you today is to actually take action on one of these tips for what do dementia caregivers need most, whether it's being creative or flexible or compassionate or not taking it personal or using humor or being, what was the other one, patient. So take one of of these and take one of these practical tips that I've given you and see if you can really try, to incorporate these into being an effective dementia caregiver as a family caregiver of a person living with dementia. And if you haven't yet reviewed this podcast, please go to Apple podcasts and review it for me. I do read them. I haven't gotten a review in a long time. When I launched the podcast, I wanted 54 reviews, 53 reviews, and I got 53 within the first three days. So I was super keen on getting that. I would love for you to go review them, give me feedback.

Taking Action and Sharing the Episode

[50:00] I to share this episode with someone. I have a new feature on my website. You can go to my website, thinkdifferentdementia.com forward slash podcasts. And there is a little microphone that you can actually voice record a question for me, and I will answer it for you on this podcast. So if you do that, if you have a question, you've got 90 seconds to ask me a question, And then I'll come on the podcast and I will make it a whole episode just answering your question. So I want you to be active in this conversation. We are having a dialogue. It's not a monologue. This is a conversation. And I want you to take this information and implement it in your life. So as I end all my programs, thank you so much for being here. And may the Lord bless you. And I will see you in the next episode.

[50:59] Thanks for joining me today, Success Seeker. I pour my heart and soul into this program to serve you. 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.

ethical decision making in dementia caregiving

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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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