These are just a few silly things I do sometimes that help me as a caregiver, particularly when I’m caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
Have a slow-motion song. This one is for when I am nearing the end of my patience. The thing is, no matter much re-directing I do, I still get asked the same questions over and over and over and it does wear on me after a while! So, I have no idea how I originally came up with this idea, but imagining the beginning to this song makes me see the scene in slow motion…which helps me loosen up, keep my sense of humor and give another gentle answer.
Make a Jim face at the camera. When things are just too bizarre but I am trying to act normal and calm. It helps to pretend that there is a camera and a sympathetic audience. So I make a goofy face behind my client’s back. No harm to them and it makes me feel less stressed!
Pretend to be an actor rehearsing a scene. This is for when I’m having that conversation. The one I’ve already had seventeen times that day. Although, to my sweet client with dementia, this is an original conversation. So it would be really rude if I sound like I already know what they are going to say! I challenge myself and pretend I’m an actor doing a scene over and over in slightly different ways. “Interested” “curious” “amused” etc.
Sigh loudly in the car. After a long shift it’s important to not carry all that stress home with me. I just look around to make sure no one will hear, sit in my car for a minute and sigh extravagantly. It’s very strange but it helps so don’t judge!
Pretend to be someone I’m not. Or to like things I don’t really like. Squirrels, for example. I despise them but most older folks think they are cute, funny and adorable so I pretend to go along with it. Hazelnut iced coffee from McDonalds- I do not really like it, but my client does and loves it when we have some together, so I pretend to love it too. Being a germaphobe. Miss Trish was one and I realized quickly that the best way to get her to eat something I prepared, and to trust me in general, was to act like I was hyper-concerned about germs and over-the-top amounts of hand washing myself. It totally worked.