Looking after ourselves

There's a lot of talk at the moment about mental health issues and strategies for keeping safe while we're in lockdown but if you're living alongside dementia you'll have been told about mental well-being almost from the beginning even if, like us, you were given no formal support.  From the point when I discovered where to look and who to listen to everything I read or heard included the words 'and make sure you look after yourself too'.  The only person to actually give a practical solution to the 'how' was Penny Garner of Contented Dementia fame (contenteddementiatrust.org) and she said to find a new hobby, away from home and one that Ash knew nothing about.  In this way, she said, I would have something new to immerse myself in that was far removed from dementia and I could understand that, the only thing was, at the time I didn't have the energy for anything new, I was too busy stumbling through the new world of dementia.  Now of course I have my walks which are definitely away from home or at least were pre Covid 19, and nothing Ash knows anything about as he doesn't remember any of the footpaths that we tramp along.  This might not be quite what Penny meant but it's close enough for me.  But what if you can't get out, what if taking up a new hobby isn't possible?  How then do you take care of yourself and your mental well-being.  I've been thinking about this and have decided that the strategies you put in place and the changes you make to your behaviour and outlook can be a game changer.  We're told how the strategies make all the difference to our loved ones but what no-one has yet pointed out as far as I can see is that they can make a huge difference to your life too.  I've seen this list before and I've heard people comment on how it's too difficult, how they don't see why they should and, even, that the things they're being asked to do are impossible.  I'm here to tell you that they're not only possible but they need to be done for the sake of you as a carer/partner/spouse/family member.  Whatever your role is in the life of someone living with dementia these strategies can help you take care of yourself. 

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dasntn said…
Hi Jane

I've not seen that list before, but I think I have pretty much come up with that approach by stumbling through all the mistakes it aims to avoid! And you are so right, it is also very important for the carers well being. It helps you become a calmer person. I know I fail to keep to these guidelines from time to time, and always regret it, both for my wife but also for myself.

Jane said…
WE all fail at times David but as long as we pick ourselves up and carry on we'll be ok. The thing I find most sad is when I read that someone has said 'we've never had that sort of relationship so I just can't do it' without realising they are now living with/caring for a completely new person and one who's often a stranger. If they could get their head around that I think they'd find it easier.