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As I navigate the highs and lows of the caregiver’s journey, some interesting lessons have cropped up for me. Some that I think you’ll find interesting no matter where you are in your life.

On February 1, my husband and I were stealing away for a 4 day weekend at the lake. But it got cut short by a middle-of-the-night call that my Mom had fallen and broken her hip. She has Alzheimer’s, so being in the hospital could be very scary. So, of course, as her primary, we rushed home.

Before the surgery to repair the hip, what I didn’t realize was that anesthesia is really hard on dementia patients.

Lesson #1 would be to ask more questions. I would have made sure they were using the least problematic drugs.

Lesson #2 was about allowing and feeling the support. During this first wave of drama, my home community – family, friends, neighbours and relatives both local and throughout North America surrounded my husband and me.

I kept things quiet on my business social media until the next hurdles occurred.

 

A week into my Mom’s hospital stay, my husband, John, started getting notifications on his Apple watch that he was experiencing Atrial Fibrillation or A-Fib.  And that threw us both for a loop.  We were supposed to be in the Caribbean on a bucket list trip to Turks and Caicos but had to cancel due to my Mom’s accident.  Thank goodness, because being in a strange country with a heart problem isn’t something I would be signing up for!

Lesson #3, was to look for the silver lining.

John’s heart is under control now, and when I posted about his A-Fib on my Facebook page, we got a ton of valuable input and an outpouring of love.

Lesson #4 came when my Mom was finally settling in back at her home and was healing from the fall.  She had a second fall and a high fever due to an infection and landed back in hospital. I found myself washed over in grief, wondering if this was the end of her 94-year journey.

I saw a clip from an interview that Andy Cohen did with Demi Moore asking her about Bruce Willis and his dementia and she said the most beautiful thing.

“Meet them where they are.”

Don’t wish for what used to be with your loved ones or wish for what could be; just be “with” them wherever they are.

Since hearing this, I have shifted from “brace yourself for whatever disappointments might show up today” to just being present with my Mom.  Answering her repetitive questions calmly, even when she thinks I’m her mother.  Just meeting her where she is – big lesson.

But one of the best lessons, #5, was an awareness around how many of us are knee-deep in caregiving with our parents.  And for some, while having health challenges of our own and trying to run a business.  You guys get it.

And when I posted a reel about my Mom’s second trip to the hospital, you felt my despair, and you lifted me up – and for that, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. ♥️

As we attempt to steal away for a weekend at the cottage again after 6 weeks of daily visits to hospitals and care homes, Lesson #6 is all about self-care.

As I look back, I realize that my own morning routine went straight out the window as soon as the crisis hit.  Next time, I’ll need to jump on the treadmill for 20 minutes or take a walk with the dog before heading to see Mom.  I’m learning that as much as consistency is important in her life, my own health has to take priority.

For those of you going through it, please drop by Facebook and let me know how you are doing.  I want to hear from you and support your caregiving journey.

And again, thank you for all of the love!!!

I’ll see you soon Wealthy Speakers!

Jane Atkinson

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