Today in our support group for caregivers of people with younger onset Alzheimer’s disease, one of the caregivers commented that there should be an Olympic medal for successfully moving his wife through the morning routine. He and his wife had been watching the Olympics and it got him thinking what skill it took to help his wife through all the individual steps involved in morning care. The other caregivers, who each had a person in varying stages of Alzheimer’s disease, joined in the conversation. They talked about points awarded or taken away for various tasks. Points given for getting all pieces of clothing on correctly or points taken away for something going wrong in the bathroom. They questioned together if the judging would have to be done over several days and whether it could be objective or mainly subjective. They all joked but running throughout the discussion was the amount of effort they showed each day and the sense of accomplishment when caregiving went right. What also ran through throughout the discussion, was the need they had to take a moment and recognize a task well done and the wish that it was recognized by others.
Living with dementia or caring for a person with dementia is not easy. It’s often a long experience with twists and turns. And it’s one that too often goes unacknowledged. As Dementia Support Group Leaders, we need to help those with dementia and those who are caregivers take a moment to recognize a job well done or on even a job done. We need to express the skill and effort they are showing, especially in those moments when they might not see it in themselves.
So no, there might not be medals given out for a completed morning routine but there can be recognition, support and community in acknowledging the effort.