A 12-Step Program for Caregivers

I want to share with you today a piece that was developed by two nurses who have worked extensively with the families of patients with Alzheimer's disease. It provides important guidance and wisdom to help us deal with our loved ones who are experiencing the symptoms of dementia.

Twelve Steps for Caregivers:
Step 1. Although I cannot control the disease process, I need to remember I can control many aspects of how it affects my loved one and me.

Step 2. I need to take care of myself so that I can continue doing the things that are most important.

Step 3. I need to simplify my lifestyle so that my time and energy are available for things that are really important at this time.

Step 4. I need to cultivate the gift of allowing others to help me because caring for my loved one is too big a job for one person.

Step 5. I need to take one day at a time rather than worry about what might happen in the future.

Step 6. I need to structure my day because a consistent schedule makes life easier for my loved one and me.

Step 7. I need to have a sense of humor because laughter helps people put things in perspective.

Step 8. I need to remember that my loved one is not being "difficult" on purpose; rather his/her behavior and emotions are distorted by the illness.

Step 9. I need to focus on and enjoy what my loved one can still do rather than constantly lament over what is gone.

Step 10. I need to increasingly depend on other relationships for love and support.

Step 11. I need to remind myself that I am doing the best that I can at this very moment.

Step 12. I need to draw upon a higher power which I believe is available to me.

You might want to pick one step each day or week and think about it and try to incorporate its message into your thoughts and actions. My all-time favorite is #11, which may be the most difficult, and yet I believe it is the step that can help us the most to keep in balance and feeling okay about our situation and ourselves.
Dr. Amy, www.dramycaregiving.com

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