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Embracing Flexibility: Lessons Learned from Navigating Alzheimer's

Updated: Apr 16

Having walked the challenging path of caregiving for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, I understand firsthand the importance of flexibility in this journey. It's a journey marked by uncertainty, heartache, and moments of profound connection. In this month’s blog post, I share insights and suggestions gathered from my own experiences, aiming to offer support and guidance to fellow caregivers navigating the complexities of Alzheimer’s.

Sandra and Gloris at the Orlando Alzheimer's Walk - 2022

Embracing Their Reality:

One of the most transformative lessons I learned was the importance of embracing the reality of my loved one’s lifestyle with Alzheimer’s. Their world becomes your world. Each day is different, and even with routines, you must be open to shifting the tasks as the day progresses and the mood changes. I wish I could tell you that every day would be the same, but it is not. Flexibility is more important than sticking to agendas!

Helping to care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is like taking care of a child. As Prov. 3:6 (Life Application Study Bible) tells us to “seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take,” they are trusting, and relying on you for guidance and protection. It is easy to ask them what they want or tell them to do something -and- that may work in the early stages, but you must think and act for them as the disease progresses. We do not dream of having to take care of our parents the way Alzheimer’s disease requires us to but learn to embrace it. Tears form in my eyes as I sit here writing this blog because I can recall moments when I helped momma do things that were so basic, like putting on her shirt – the right way.

Flexibility in Communication:

Communication lies at the core of caregiving, yet it can be very challenging when faced with Alzheimer’s. I found that being flexible in communication is critical. Sometimes words fail, but gestures, touch, and gentle reassurances speak volumes. It’s about finding creative ways to connect and convey love and support, even amidst major memory loss.

I will always have that place in my heart that misses momma, especially on Sundays when she would turn up the volume on the radio or play her favorite CD to listen to the quartet sounds of some favorites like The Jackson Southenaires, Willie Banks and the Messengers, Slim and the Supreme Angels, Lee Williams and the Spirituals QCs, the Canton Spirituals and so many more. Music had its way of resonating with her and even with Alzheimer’s momma's love for music never vanished and she never forgot the lyrics. It may be different for your loved one. Try to gradually reintroduce them to the things that they enjoyed before Alzheimer’s. It may help them find a place of happiness during the journey.

Adapting Daily Routines:

Establishing routines can provide a sense of stability for Alzheimer’s patients, but it’s equally important to be flexible within those routines. Every day was different with momma so we learned to adjust and adapt to whatever the day may bring as long as she was the priority; it was the same way with my brother. Greg looked forward to our afternoon Starbucks excursions and so did I. Unexpected changes can trigger anxiety and confusion. I learned to adapt daily routines to suit my loved one’s needs and it benefited everyone.

Creating a Safe Haven:

Creating a safe and supportive environment is crucial for both the patient and caregiver. Simple adjustments, like removing tripping hazards or labeling household items, can make a world of difference. Being flexible in accommodating the patient’s preferences and comfort levels fosters a sense of security and well-being.

As caregivers, we often neglect our own needs in the relentless pursuit of caring for our loved ones. I learned the hard way that self-compassion is a necessity. It’s okay to ask for help, take breaks, and prioritize self-care. Take time for yourself so you are better equipped to provide compassionate care to your loved ones.

We Support Alzheimer's Walk 2017

Seeking Support and Resources:

Navigating Alzheimer’s can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Seek out support groups, educational resources, and professional services. Connecting with others who understand your journey can provide invaluable support and guidance. Be flexible in exploring different avenues of support, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help when needed.

As I reflect on my journey as a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, I’m reminded of the transformative power of flexibility. I believe that momma and Greg wished they could tell me how they felt but everything was jumbled up. It pained me but I'm sure it pained them even more. As you go through each day, rely on God for strength and keep adapting to your new reality. Embracing their reality, adapting communication, routines, and environments, practicing self-compassion, and seeking support are essential components of navigating this challenging terrain. I hope that these insights and suggestions offer comfort and guidance to fellow caregivers on their journey. Remember, you are not alone, and together, we can navigate Alzheimer’s with grace and resilience.

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