Mood-Boosting Tips for Caregivers

You know that expression "Stop and smell the roses"? The benefits of slowing down to "be in the moment" are truer than ever when you're dealing with someone struggling with dementia. Someone who has early memory loss has to work harder to remember words, faces, sequences, and how everyday things work -- and rushing the person along only adds to his or her anxiety. Even the most routine activities will take longer.

Allowing extra time and resisting the urge to jump in and take over won't always be easy, but it's almost always rewarded by a less stressful, more pleasant experience. Here are three ways to practice what experts call "mindfulness" as a caregiver:

1. Stop to breathe. Of course you're breathing all the time. But pausing in a tense situation to breathe in a conscious way will help you stay calm and connected. Inhale from deep in your belly, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. Make your breaths slow and steady.

2. Take it in and then let it go. When you feel your tension rising, take a mental time-out. Instead of moving on to the thousand things you're not getting done and are running late for, pause to simply observe how you're feeling right in that moment. Acknowledge it: "Boy, I'm getting tense. This is making me crazy." Simply pausing to be an observer of yourself can help nip escalating stress.

3. Turn bad into good. Another way to bring attention to the moment and away from the tension that builds is to flip your thoughts from negative to positive. Consider what you love about your loved one. Focus not on what he or she has lost, but who he or she still is and still can do. Sometimes that shift is enough to spark momentary gratitude for the present moment.


over 2 years ago, said...

Had to chuckle at this article. It's my 86yr old mother who is always in a rush. We could simply be going to the store for milk, and she gets so worked up trying to get out the door she whips herself into a frenzy. I'll say "mom, relax, it's all good, the store will be there whenever we get there."


over 2 years ago, said...

Every body should turn bad into good and there will be happiness every where. First look inside and be aware of what bad you have and start changing in small measures. GOD will help you.


over 3 years ago, said...

Perfect timing. We are packing to move. I should say "I am packing to move with help from my honey". Sometimes he just gets stuck on the small things, whys, where's and what fors. I am learning not to be impatient and breathing deep helps. I cared for my mother for many years, she was sweet and never raised her voice. It was much easier. My honey can be a "crabby old geezer ".


over 3 years ago, said...

All three suggestions were very helpful. I have learned a lot through your program, keep up the good work.


over 4 years ago, said...

Just the reminder how to stop and smell the roses and remember what you love about your loved one.


about 5 years ago, said...

Focus not on what he has lost, or but who he is and can still do. The hard part is remembering this at the time.


about 5 years ago, said...

I found the comment about the breathing very helpful and I decided to start practicing right away. It does work!! Try it. Thank you.


over 5 years ago, said...

Turning the bad into good. I try to find something to laugh with him about what he did. That is ONE of the most important things you can do Is to laugh with him NEVER at him! It also helps him to see the funny side and keeps him from getting upset with himself.


over 5 years ago, said...

All 3 of examples were good for me to realize what I can do.


over 5 years ago, said...

Sometimes I just need to read things like this to try and help convince myself that I need to think about me. I need more time for me.