Feb 24, 2011


"Happiness is the sum of your life choices. People who are happy seem to intuitively know this, and their lives are built on the following pillars: Devoting time to family and friends, Appreciating what they have, Maintaining an optimistic outlook, Feeling a sense of purpose,
Living in the moment," Mayo Clinic Stress Management newsletter.

I have been ill with an upper respiratory viral infection, influenza, the doctor said. I thought I had taken the precautions of staying well: did get the flu vaccine last fall, do eat well, exercise regularly, maintain mental health. But, this illness coincides with feeling very discouraged, and I don't think that is a coincidence. So, with the sometimes-overwhelming task of being a dementia caregiver, how do we take care of our own health? It is imperative, as statistics have frightening figures of how many caregivers die before the care receiver. The pillars above are good reminders of what could be a worthy compass for living our lives the way we want, and the way that brings us contentment. As dementia caregivers, most of us are devoting considerable time to family or friends -- at least the care receiver. But we need to be mindful to keep the other important relationships as priorities too. Appreciating what we have: the attitude of gratitude worthwhile practice. Maintaining optimism: in the face of a progressive and terminal illness, this can prove difficult, but it is important. Living in the moment: a good one for me. The tasks will get done; I don't need to keep reviewing them in my head. Feeling a sense of purpose: sometimes this task of dementia caregiver can seem small in importance in the scheme of big things going on in the world, or perhaps big things we have accomplished in our own lives. But, perhaps there is not much which is more important than to be witness to the ending stages of another's life.

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