a woman sitting on a couch with a woman holding her hand | christian family caregiver with her mom
a woman sitting on a couch with a woman holding her hand | christian family caregiver with her mom

The Willing Sacrifice of Caregiving: A Daughter's Reflection on God's Providence While Caring for Her Parents with Dementia

Have you ever considered the Bible verse, "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go," and how it may relate to dementia? 

Every time I read this passage from John 21: 18, I think about the innumerable different ailments we frail humans can experience in our lifetimes, and it reminds me that the wages of sin is death, and that things really should not be this way. 

After more than 30 years of working as an occupational therapist, specializing in dementia care, I have often seen this exact scenario unfold in countless people's lives. I have seen 1000's of people living with dementia need to have another dress them, or carry them where they don't want to go.

As a daughter of dementia committed to keeping her parents with dementia at home, you might be struggling to balance your desire to help your parents stay at home with your own life. 

You may be a wife, a mother, and an active church member. 

christian family caregiver with her mom

You could be a stay at home mom, trying to home school your own children, or you might be helping your adult children take care of your grandchildren so that your children can work. 

You might be like me, caring for your parents while working and starting a business. 

As hard as it is, I believe that God's providence is kind, even in difficult situations like caring for a parent with dementia. While we may not always understand why God allows certain things to happen, we can trust that He is sovereign and has a plan for our lives.

In the case of caring for a parent with dementia, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, tired and frustrated. Watching someone you love lose their independence and struggle with everyday tasks is emotionally challenging, to say the least. 

But even in these difficult moments, we can find comfort in the fact that God is with us and will never leave us or forsake us.

Here are 3 easy steps to take when you are feeling overwhelmed with caring for a parent with dementia at home:

1. Ask for help: 

I know that sounds simple, but in my almost 30 years as an occupational therapist helping people with dementia stay at home it doesn’t often happen. As a believer in Christ, most of us have a built-in support system in our church. 

But we don’t use our built-in support system. 

When my husband and I were faced with helping my parents with dementia, we made the decision to move to be closer to them (and our church) precisely for that reason. Because we can ask for help.

Your natural support system is willing to help, but they may not know how to help. Be specific. Ask for meals. Ask for help with transportation if your parents cannot drive anymore. Ask for someone to visit with them so you can run an errand. 

Ask family to set up a Meal Train or Take Them A Meal or a local meal delivery service to relieve the burden.

See Also: How To Decrease Your Stress As A Dementia Caregiver Through Coaching

christian family caregiver with her mom

2. Consider home care services: 

Did you know that there are 2 types of home care services? There are medical home health providers and non-medical home health providers. 

What is the difference? Medical home health providers are short term, they are considered “skilled”, meaning your parent needs nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy. They are designed to “fill in the gap”, when something happens like a recent fall, a hospitalization or a change in functioning. These services are valuable, usually covered by insurance but are only a stop gap measure. It is not a long term solution.

Non-medical home care is different. This is a provider, usually in your community that offers services to people aging in place to supplement care. They can help with transportation, bathing, companionship, laundry and cleaning. (Depending on the provider). It is usually paid privately, and can be tailored to your specific needs. 

3. Adult Day Programs: 

Another often overlooked community resource is an adult day program. These are community based programs that are designed to help daughters like us keep their parents at home, by having them go to a day program.

What are some of the benefits for mom or dad? Probably one of the most important is socialization. Research shows that people with dementia will often remain at a higher level when they have stimulation. And as much as we love being at home, living alone (with a TV on in the background), is not much stimulation.

Another benefit is many adult day programs provide one meal per day, can help with medication administration during the day and may be covered by some insurances, like Medicaid (if your parent qualifies)

Many adult day programs have the ability to have skilled outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy treat your parents AT THE DAY PROGRAM. The benefit of that is it is a different “bucket” of benefits, meaning you utilize their entitlements to the best of your ability. 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, caring for a parent with dementia is never easy but it can be less difficult.  There are many resources available to help you provide the best possible care while also maintaining your own independence and control. 

Join our next workshop here to learn more about our community of daughters of dementia, where you can gain certainty and clarity in caring for your parents, learn the skills you need to become confident and capable in your noble, good and right goal of helping your parents with dementia stay at home, all without sacrificing your own life!

We can find comfort in the fact that God is with us and will never leave us or forsake us. Trust in God's kind, but hard providence and plan for your life, and remember that you are never alone. Then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

We will never be required to give the ultimate sacrifice. That has already willingly been paid for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Our sacrifice as a daughter of dementia, is to willingly choose how we serve our parents with dementia, trusting in the providence of God for peace.

Read More:

One Mistake A Dementia Caregiver Makes By Not Traveling With Kathy Smith Shoaf

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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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