Caregivers be banging!
I've been a doomster of late, tossing out a lot of dementia gut-wrench into the ether. While it's undeniable that dementia caregiving is chock full of Sadderdays, I'm shaking that off (for now) to congratulate all of us for the myriad of ways we are making this work.
A big "Good on you!" to the caregivers nominated for the 2020 Caregiving Visionary Awards. Sponsored by Caregiving.com, the mission of the Caregiving Visionary Awards is to honor individuals and organizations that act as beacons of hope for family, professional and volunteer caregivers.
Why wasn't I nominated? I'm as hopeful as the next burnt out, losing her mind, babbling-incoherently-in-a-closet dementia family caregiver. Amiright?
Well, I guess I'll have to wait until they have a category for Most Bedraggled Caregiver Who Leaves ALL The Bottles Empty before I have a chance to qualify.
Anywho... the winners of the CVA's were announced on November 24, via Facebook Live stream. (I think it an egregious oversight that there was no really big dance number to open the show, or a salacious wardrobe malfunction during, but I suppose they gotta have something to improve upon next year.)
The recipient of the Visionary Caregiver Award is Allyson Schrier, a woman who has been a family caregiver to three relatives with dementia, including her husband who died from FTD at age 54.
As a caregiver she was dismayed by the quality of TV available for dementia folks who, let's face it, watch a lot of TV. So she MacGyver'd that shit up and created ZinniaTV - a FREE collection of high quality, high interest, gently-paced videos to engage people living with dementia. Now THAT'S a caregiver doing it for herself!
ZinniaTV is truly engaging, captivating me as I poked around the channels to see what was offered.
The categories are varied: Animals, Places, Fun & Games, and more. Each category offers 6 - 12 videos, about 7 minutes each, that can be streamed in a row. Beautifully shot, they are funny, nostalgic, interactive, and calming.
Mom has long since lost her ability to focus on much of anything including TV, and sadly ZinniaTV is no exception, but it is remarkable. Check it out for your dementia person! It may just become a crucial tool in your caregiver bag of tricks.
In other tales of courage in caregiving, I met a new caregiver sister-in-arms in Veronica Shanklin. Veronica left her marketing job in Chicago and moved back to her home state of Texas to assist her mother in caring for her grandmother with dementia. Shortly thereafter her mother was also diagnosed with dementia. With that heavy load of caregiving to shoulder she still found time to create Dementia Care Warriors, a non-profit dedicated to supporting dementia caregivers, while advocating and championing dementia legislation and funding.
Sheesh! Somebody's an over-achiever!
After including an excerpt from a Stumped Town Dementia post on her Dementia Care Warriors blog, Veronica and I struck up a correspondence that thrilled me to no end!
While much of our dementia experience is wildly different, I felt immediately understood by this inspiring woman.
We share similar attitudes to dementia and our caregiving roles, making me feel like she'd been a long lost friend I'd just met.
Plus, she knows Oprah! Okay, well, maybe not "knows" but has been featured in O Magazine so pretty sure she's close to achieving BFF status with our favorite "Live Your Best Life!" Lady.
And on the other side of the dementia coin, Wendy Mitchell who is living with early on-set dementia, continues to be a champion for all of us kicking our way through this swinging dementia lifestyle. Her post "Another hazy day and my mood drops..." is a powerful observation of what living with dementia is like.
Every dementia family caregiver should have a person living with dementia who can articulate the experience, in their corner. I highly recommend adding Wendy to your virtual team to increase your understanding of what your dementia person is battling.
Doing so has made me a better caregiver.
Now, don't think I've forgotten about those of us who are happy if we manage to get through our dementia days without setting ourselves on fire in some freakish, did-not-see-that-coming, Depends vs. stove top gas burner catastrophe. I've been doing plenty of caregiver underachieving that is still making for successful days ('ya know... sometimes).
In the height of my caregiver mediocrity, I can still suss out amusement for myself each day that puts a smile on Mom's face due to my giggles.
Hospice has been supplying us with free incontinence wear, but unlike our previous store bought pull-ups these have a certain je ne sais quoi quality to them that evokes visions of Mom heading out onto a can-can stage sporting their come-hither ruffles and frills.
So, of course, I have picked out the perfect outfit for her should the Moulin Rouge ever come calling...
I imagine fake eyelashes will be a nightmare to apply (I'll prolly end up glueing her eyes shut), but still it's a marvelous daydream to have while she's fighting the Changing of the (incontinence) Guard.
And sometimes it's just flat out caregiver fail, but when we all can laugh at the outcome of a purchase we thought would be a win for dementia, well, that fills a bit of our day with smiles.
I saw this on Amazon and deemed it a great product to keep the soap out of Mom's eyes whilst torturing her with a shower.
So much wrong.
It promptly went into the garbage.
And that's the deal, guys. Whether you are hitting it out of the ball park with dementia innovation and awareness, or achieving a solid mediocre day of caregiving, or crying in the shower fully clothes 'cause it was the closest place to hide, we are still making the best of a bad situation for ourselves and our dementia folks.
It's a difficult thing to remember when up to our eyeballs in someone else's poop, but it's true.
So let's not sell ourselves short. This journey is HARD, and we are banging our way through it, often letting the defeats drown us for too long a duration while forgetting the hard won victories of our days, regardless of how fleeting.
We are Superbad! Let's show ourselves some McLovin and give ourselves a break. We truly are some big, damn deals.