“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord find harmony. In difficulty lies opportunity.” –A. Einstein
CARE Giving teaches us to open to what we find in the moment.
Challenged daily to discover new ways of dealing effectively with the unexpected, Care Givers must cope with the unpredictable, ranging from rapid changes in behavior and health to moving and other changes in life circumstances. CARE Giving asks that we accept change and adapt ourselves to what we find on a daily basis. Acceptance and adaptation can be challenging. Strength, trust and courage are required as we step over the edge of what we know and enter the unknown.
Observation of our own response to a given situation encourages self-awareness, increases understanding and offers insight. As empathy and compassion grow, we begin to engage more effectively. Speaking the language of Alzheimer’s requires the same skills as communicating with anybody. Communication begins with being present.
Three Steps toward Compassionate CARE
• Cultivate mindfulness– As a tool to return awareness to the present.
• Trust the present moment– Accept whatever arises right now. Offer your compassionate attention.
• Stretch into the unknown– Remain flexible, adaptable and open to anything, without expectation.
Speaking the Language of Alzheimer’s*
• Create a supportive physical environment– Simplify, avoid distractions, accommodate changes in perception and mobility.
• Empathize and Validate–Identify feelings and speak with your heart. Language fails but feelings remain intact.
• Provide an enriched life–Stimulate abilities, provide meaningful activities, praise frequently, laugh often.
• Enter their world–Join your companion right where they are. Avoid correcting, rationalizing, arguing, critiquing. Speak in simple short sentences, Allow longer processing time. Connect through eye contact and touch. Find joy in being together.
*Adapted from Learning to Speak A;zheimer’s by Joanne K. Coste