by Carolyn Lukert, MBA, CGCM,
PAC Consultant and Mentor
Dear PAC Consultant,
I support my mom who has Alzheimers and lives with me. I thought we had it figured out. We had a nice routine, and then COVID-19 entered the picture. In a flash, we could no longer do the things she liked to do. For example, long trips to the grocery store meandering through the aisles, a very supervised weekly volunteer activity with a large group of people, lunch outings with one or two friends on a pretty regular basis, we can no longer do these. Now, we spend much more time inside, and the majority of the time, it’s just the two of us. I am running out of things to do with her and it’s soon to be too cold to do much of anything outside at all. The one consistent thing we have been able to do is go for a walk and that will likely come off the list in the very short term. I’m not sure how either of us are going to make it through the winter. This thing is just dragging on and on, and I am starting to lose hope. To make matters worse, I am seeing changes in my mom that I am thinking may be a result of these circumstances. Any words of encouragement?
Losing Hope in Lowell
Dear Losing Hope,
Thank you so much for writing in. And wow, as I read your letter, I could sense the despair in your voice. I am so sorry. That’s got to be tough on both of you. This pandemic has really changed our lives, hasn’t it? For many of us, as care partners we know the value of routine, and finding ways to adapt our routines. For what we thought would be a short amount of time, has now stretched out longer and longer. As we head into the darkness of the winter months, things are not looking brighter, I know.
So, words of encouragement … we all have heard the news of the vaccine development. While that is not right around the corner, it’s coming. That said, what do we do in the meantime? What will help your mom, and just as important, what will help you?
I am wondering if finding a way to take a bit of a pause, and think through one thing you might be able to do for you that could help restore some emotional energy and perhaps a bit of hope. If you can find that, then you will be much better able to then focus on some new routines for your mom. Think small. Perhaps it is identifying three or four times a day where you step outside and take in some fresh air. Maybe it is asking Alexa to play your favorite song when you get up in the morning to help you start off on a positive note. Or, perhaps it’s asking someone you know and trust to stop by and hang out with your mom for 15 mins a day (or a few days each week) so you can take that walk around the block. Something simple, yet meaningful and intentional. Once you get your own habits and routines on their way, then shifting your focus to your mom may seem just a tad easier.
As for your mom, finding simple things that can be incorporated into her daily routine, and making them routine, is a goal. That does take a bit of strategy, for sure, so being able to think clearly yourself is a prerequisite. Thus, taking care of yourself first is important. The old adage from the days when we were doing a lot of travel; put your own oxygen mask on first, then help those who need assistance.
We at Positive Approach to Care® are here to help, as well. We can be one of your oxygen masks, so to speak. One thing you could do is reach out for a free 30-minute consultation. Our consultation team will work together with you to help explore strategies for your own self-care routines, as well as for your mom. So, please do not hesitate to involve us. It is what we do.
Also, please take a look at our Family and Friends page, and take three minutes to view the Breathe video that is in the center of the page. You might walk away with a helpful technique (and new habit) that will kick off a renewed sense of hope. Then, check out our other resources.
Thanks again for reaching out, and please hang in there. Know that we are here and we are only a phone call or email away.