CAREGIVING, Stories from a Caregiver
Dementia’s Good Side
“This series of short stories and the accompanying original art were created to document and share my journey as a dementia caregiver. If you are caring for a loved one who is challenged by Alzheimer’s or another dementia, may they resonate with you while seeking meaning in your caregiving work and a better, brighter and healthier future. If this is your first time stopping by, I recommend starting from the beginning with Story #1: A Few Things I’ve Learned.”
Stories from a Caregiver: Love, Resiliency, and Renewal
Story #15: Dementia’s Good Side
By: Gerald Lloyd Wood
Those with any knowledge of Alzheimer’s and other dementias would agree they are devastating diseases. Furthermore, any suggestion their occurrence might offer benefits of any kind would seem ill-informed, if not foolish. But, consider such a premise with an open mind. Pauline Boss, Ph.D., and author of the acclaimed book, Loving Someone Who Has Dementia, understands this point-of-view and offered a most insightful perspective, “Without romanticizing the pain, seeing the good side gives you back some sense of control and takes away some of the terror.” p. XXIV.
As a fulltime caregiver for my wife who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, I have also seen the good side of dementia. Naturally, I’ve questioned these observations as rationalizations to make my circumstances less painful. But inextricably, caregiving, not by choice but circumstances, helped me find greater self-worth. It was a good thing to learn there is always more to give than ever thought imaginable. The role of caregiver has also increased my awareness and deep appreciation for all that is given out of love from others throughout one’s lifetime. Yes, I’ve become more confident and introspective; indeed, a better person as a direct result. Of course, it is for others to judge but that’s how I feel. And, that’s a good thing too.
Caregiving requires the best one has to offer in a selfless way. It is a challenging and difficult job demanding an unwavering commitment to another individual who is dependent. Thus, all forms of caregiving are human endeavors of the best kind. On that list are volunteers who provide respite care for the caregivers themselves. These earth angels provide needed breaks from care that is otherwise 24/7. Their generous respite brings hope, renewal and vitality. It is a very kind, generous, thoughtful, and yes, good thing to do. Indeed, special people show up when it takes a village. Respite care also alleviates social isolation that commonly occurs with this job.
The role of caregiver has also increased my awareness and deep appreciation for all that is given out of love from others throughout one’s lifetime.
Sponsored support groups by organizations like Duet Partners in Health & Aging, the Meaning & Hope Institute, Alzheimer’s Association, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and others across the country foster social engagement for those in need of resources, encouragement and information. Finally, the contribution of a vast network of dedicated memory care workers, volunteers, donors and advocates is immeasurable. Other professionals in medicine, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, education and research are committed to finding a cure while supporting dementia families at the same time.
These amazing people represent the good side of dementia.
© 2022 Gerald Lloyd Wood. All rights reserved. This story and accompanying art are used with permission of the author.
Boss, Pauline, Ph.D., Loving Someone Who Has Dementia. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011.
Wood, Gerald Lloyd Musings of a Purposeful Mind. Research Manuscript. All rights reserved © 2016.
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Ready to Find Meaning and Hope?
Finding Meaning and Hope is a free program for family caregivers based on the book, Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope while Coping with Stress and Grief by Dr. Pauline Boss. This which features videos with caregivers like Gerald and facilitator guided discussions.