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Embracing Resilience When Caregiving For Parents With Dementia

When The Dementia Hardships Hit Do You Have The Resilience You Need To Bounce Back?

Do you, as a daughter of dementia, feel overwhelmed and powerless in the face of your daily challenges? Are you hindered by self doubt? Do you feel unable to overcome the obstacles that dealing with dementia is throwing at you?

As daughters providing care for parents with dementia, you understand the immense challenges and emotional toll this journey can bring. It is crucial for you to cultivate your own resilience to navigate these difficulties with strength and grace.

At some point in any dementia journey, you will likely face hardships. Whether it's a personal setback like losing your loved one, or a major change in your loved one’s ability to function or just being tired from the overwhelm of caregiving, we all have to face tough times at one point or another.

And when those tough times hit, it's important to have the resilience you need to bounce back. Do you have the resilience it takes to persevere through the known difficulty of a dementia journey?

No one ever said life was easy, and we know that dementia can be hard to navigate. But with resilience on your side, you can face anything that comes your way when dealing with dementia.

Embracing Resilience When Caregiving For Parents With Dementia

The Science Of Resilience - How Our Brains Work And What Happens When We Experience A Difficult Event

Any challenging event or trauma can have a lasting impact on your life. It's not uncommon for people to struggle for years after experiencing difficulties. But what allows some people to bounce back relatively quickly while others never seem to recover? The answer may lie in the science of resilience.

Resilience is your ability to adapt to change and recover from adversity. It's a complex trait that is influenced by many factors, including your genes, your environment, and your previous experiences.

Our brains play a central role in our resilience. When we experience a difficult event, our brain goes into "survival mode."

This activates the fight-or-flight response and releases stress hormones like cortisol. These hormones help you to react quickly and effectively in an emergency situation, and that is good and right and is how we protect ourself.

However, if you live in survival mode for too long, it can take a toll on your physical and mental health. That's why it's so important to learn how to manage stress and build resilience. And we know that helping people you love with dementia is stressful. So we need to develop resilience.

There are many ways to do this, but some of the most effective strategies include exercise, relaxation techniques, and talking to someone who understands what you're going through. By taking steps to improve your resilience, you can build a foundation of strength that will help you through whatever your dementia life throws your way.

What Are The Factors That Influence Your Ability To Be Resilient

There are many factors that can influence your ability to be resilient, including your upbringing, genetics, and experiences. However, one of the most important determining factors is your mindset.

Individuals who have a growth mindset believe that their abilities can be developed through effort and perseverance. They are more likely to be resilient in the face of adversity.

On the other hand, those with a fixed mindset – those who believe that their abilities are static and cannot be changed – are more likely to give up in the face of challenge. By cultivating a growth mindset, we can open ourselves up to opportunities for growth and development, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Here are 8 Easy To Follow Ways To Develop Your Own Resilience “Muscle”

1. Embracing Self-Compassion and Emotional Well-being

One of the fundamental aspects of having your own resilience is embracing self-compassion and prioritizing your emotional well-being. It is essential to acknowledge and honor your own emotions, allowing yourself to feel and process the various feelings that arise in the care-giving role. Practicing self-compassion means treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness when facing challenging situations. Remember, your feelings are valid and need to be acknowledged

2. Establishing Boundaries and Prioritizing Self-Care

To maintain resilience, you must establish healthy boundaries and prioritize self-care. Setting clear boundaries helps you manage your time and energy effectively, ensuring youe have the resources needed to care for yourself while supporting your parents. By allocating time for activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, you can recharge and rejuvenate, preventing burnout.

3. Seeking and Accepting Support from Others

No one should face the challenges of dementia caregiving alone. Seeking and accepting support from others is crucial for your well-being and resilience. Reach out to friends, family, support groups, or online communities where you can share your experiences, seek advice, and find solace in knowing that you are not alone in this journey. Actively ask for help, people are willing to help but you need to be specific in what you ask for, so ask specifically. “Suzie, I need you to help me. Can you bring me 2 meals this week?”.

4. Cultivating a Positive Mindset and Optimistic Outlook

Maintaining a positive mindset can significantly impact your resilience. Despite the difficulties you face in dealing with dementia, it is essential to focus on creating moments of joy, creating the small victories, and the cherished memories you create with your parents. Cultivate an optimistic outlook by practicing gratitude, reframing negative thoughts, and nurturing a belief in your ability to overcome challenges. As hard as it is to think of, this journey too, will end and all too soon your caregiving journey will be done. Cherish the time you do have by using this resilience tool.

5. Building Resilient Coping Strategies and Stress Management Techniques

Resilience is strengthened when you develop effective coping strategies and stress management techniques. Explore various approaches such as journaling, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or engaging in hobbies that promote relaxation and stress relief. Identifying healthy outlets for stress relief and implementing them into your daily routines can help you better manage the emotional and physical demands of caregiving.

Embracing Resilience When Caregiving For Parents With Dementia

6. Practicing Mindfulness and Finding Moments of Solace

Amidst the chaos of caregiving, finding moments of solace is essential for your well-being. Practicing mindfulness can help you stay present, reduce your anxiety, and cultivate a sense of calm amidst the challenges. Dedicate time each day to engage in mindfulness exercises, such as guided meditation, deep breathing, or simply taking a few moments to appreciate the beauty of nature. My personal favorite is my daily time of prayer, speaking out my heart to the Lord, knowing that he has my good and his Glory in mind, even in my oftentimes hard circumstances.

7. Embracing Flexibility and Adaptability in the Caregiving Journey

The journey of caregiving for parents with dementia is filled with unpredictable twists and turns. Embracing flexibility and adaptability allows you to navigate these changes with greater ease. Understand that circumstances may shift, and caregiving strategies that worked previously may need to be adjusted. By remaining flexible and open to new approaches, you can adapt to the evolving needs of our parents and yourselves. That is why I call it my “Imperfect” Perfect Plan for dementia caregiving.

8. Nurturing Personal Interests and Hobbies Outside of Caregiving

Resilience is not solely built on your caregiving responsibilities; it also stems from nurturing your personal interests and hobbies. Carving out time for activities that bring you joy, whether it's reading, painting, dancing, or engaging in sports, provides an essential outlet for self-expression and rejuvenation. Remember, taking care of yourself allows you to provide better care and be able to sustain your caregiving journey. Remember, caregiving is a marathon, not a sprint.

Stories Of People Who Have Faced Tremendous Hardships And Bounced Back!

We all face hardships and setbacks at some point in our regular lives, never mind a dementia journey. Some of us will struggle with serious health issues, while others will experience the death of a loved one.

No matter what form our hardships take, they tend to leave us feeling shaken and uncertain about the future. But it is possible to bounce back from even the most difficult challenges life can throw our way.

In fact, some of the most successful and resilient people are those who have faced greater hardships and come out stronger on the other side.

Here are two stories of people who have overcome tremendous difficulties while dealing with dementia but came through it with great grace and peace:

Elaine and her sister had been taking care of their mother, who had dementia and broke her hip. Their mother never recovered her ability to walk after her hip fracture and remained bedridden for more than 3 years after the fracture.

With the help of her daughters, she remained in her own home for 2 additional years, where her daughters made a plan to help keep her at home. Her girls each took a week a month and paid a caregiver for the remainder of the time.

Closer to the end of her dementia journey, Elaine moved her mother to her house to provide her 24 hour care until her death. As difficult as this journey was, when you ask Elaine about the journey, she has no regrets saying: “We were able to keep her at home for as long as she could stay there, then we took care of her here until she died. I wouldn’t do it any other way.”

Elaine’s resilience in the face of 24 hour care, as well as her deep founded faith in the Providence of God, allowed her and her family to face the difficulties of dementia with grace and peace.

Martin and his family are another example of showing great resilience in the face of the difficulties of dementia. Martin was caring for his wife at home alone, but needed more help. They were living in an area that was starting to not become safe to live in anymore.

In collaboration with the family, who have faced many hardships in their lives, including a devastating head injury of one of Martin’s grandchildren, they decided their best option was to sell their house, and move in with their kids so that he would have help with his wife, who had end stage dementia.

They moved in with their daughter, and the plan was to build a house on their property. But Martin’s wife’s decline came quickly after the move.

Despite the challenges, Martin showed grace and peace in his trials because he was resilient. He demonstrated the ability to learn new ways to help his wife and was always positive and upbeat when working with him and his wife to help keep her at home.

Conclusion:

These 2 stories show that it is possible to overcome great hardship when dealing with dementia and still be positive and develop resilience, despite the challenges.

No matter what difficulties you face, remember that you do have the strength and resilience you need to bounce back. And, if you are struggling with resilience, as a daughter of dementia, register for my next workshop on May 25, 2023. You can register here: “From Overwhelmed To Empowered: A Workshop For Daughter of Dementia”

FAQs

  1. How can resilience benefit daughters caring for parents with dementia?
    • Resilience empowers daughters to effectively navigate the challenges of dementia caregiving, maintain their well-being, and find strength in the face of adversity.
  2. What are some practical techniques to cultivate resilience while caregiving for a parent with dementia?
    • Practical techniques include practicing self-care, seeking support from others, embracing flexibility, developing coping strategies, and maintaining a positive mindset throughout the caregiving journey.
  3. How can resilience help daughters manage stress and prevent burnout in dementia caregiving?
    • Resilience equips daughters with the tools to manage stress by establishing boundaries, prioritizing self-care, practicing stress-relieving techniques, and seeking respite opportunities to avoid burnout.
  4. Can resilience improve the quality of relationships between daughters and parents with dementia?
    • Yes, resilience fosters empathy, effective communication, and understanding, enhancing the quality of relationships between daughters and parents with dementia.
  5. How does resilience contribute to personal growth and empowerment while caregiving for a parent with dementia?
    • Resilience enables personal growth by embracing change, overcoming challenges, nurturing personal interests outside of caregiving, and celebrating small victories, leading to a sense of empowerment and fulfillment.

Read More:

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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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