Caregivers are nurturers in reverse.
Think about the euphoria when your baby was born. You held the tiny mewling human being with love and tenderness and you started to plan and to envision a future full of hope and dreams.
This life is entrusted to you, to care for, to direct, to teach all that is necessary to provide a foundation for a life yet to be lived. You could be holding the next Prime Minister/doctor/teacher/entrepreneur. The possibilities are endless. You try to conjure up the passages of life: Graduation, marriage, children, success in whatever they choose to do in their life.
Now consider dementia. You have achieved so much. You have the children, have enjoyed a satisfying career, have made a name for yourself as a businessman, have loved what you did as work or study. You have enjoyed pleasures untold, participated in events that are uplifting, awe inspiring. You have lived. Then comes dementia.
As a caregiver you are given this awesome task to begin the nurturing process again. To teach, to train, to protect, to guide, and to do the things that you did as you cared for your child. You remember how to kiss away the hurt. You plan your life to be there, always there. You live in two realities. You think and see and hear and plan and live for two.
When your child is born you look forward with hope and joy. When your loved one has dementia you look forward with trepidation. Your child is a beginning. Your loved with dementia is an ending. You have the complete responsibility for both. You anticipate the next step with both. Your parental and caring skills are in high demand for both. The difference is that one was your child, the other is your husband, partner, mother, father, sister, brother, friend. You try to process that and realize the full extent of the chasm that yawns between the dreams for your child and the imagined nightmare from this time forward.
Those stages you anticipated with love is a progression with your child that you see through 18 years or more. Your loved one also exhibits stages of progression of dementia which you could be living through for 18 years or more – still with love.
The Meander: Acknowledging the reality is the first step to coping. Then look in your loved ones eyes. See the absolute trust they have in you. Know that absolute trust brings absolute responsibility. You are their world. Know that you are the most loved person in the world. Awesome.