“We’re going to focus on the positive today.”
Right from the start, Author and National Speaker Jolene Brackey set the tone for a delightful, honest, and often poignant discussion on caregiving for people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. We laughed a lot – mostly at ourselves, cried a little, and found much to recognize in what she shared about the experiences of life with dementia. If that sounds incongruent – laughing about a serious disease – we might consider her suggestion to lighten up a little bit in those places where it makes sense to let go.
The name of her WCDAN Spring Event presentation on April 4, 2017, was “Creating Moments of Joy,” and she did not disappoint. She approached the subject with dignity and respect for the person living with dementia, as well as compassion and understanding for the caregiver.
In our efforts as caregivers to be perfect, she reminded us that “there is no perfect answer, go with the better answer.” She urged us to allow the person with dementia to be themselves and be comfortable, even if it means wearing the same clothing every day. It isn’t about you, it’s always about them. “You can always buy twenty of the same sweater,” she said, if it makes you feel better. She asked us to consider whether we needed to be right if it resulted in a tug of war, or if we wanted our loved one to be calm and content.
Jolene provided many tips for avoiding conflict, such as ways to help improve daily living issues, like incontinence, and she asked us to work out the root cause of agitated behavior to find a solution to them other than medication. Throughout both the morning and evening sessions she created an environment of sharing so we could learn from each other, too.
She reminded us that we’re wives, husbands, daughters, sons, first and foremost, and not to be afraid to ask for help with professional caregivers when it’s time. Her words will stay with us for a long time and hopefully not just make our own lives better when we put her suggestions into practice, but enrich the lives of the people we care for, too.
If you missed the presentation, you can find information about Jolene and her books about caregiving at her website.