Dementia Family Caregivers are among the unsung heroes in life. They have been given one of the most difficult jobs with limited resources. They pour their heart and soul into caring for their loved one. Their heart breaks as they see the subtle changes and sometimes major changes taking place. I understand because my mother had Alzheimer's and my Dad had vascular dementia. I no longer take care of someone with dementia. I am now the recipient of my wife do things for me that she has never done before or even signed up for.
Now, I see things through the eyes of someone experiencing balance, gait, freezing of gait and hand, GI, audio and visual hallucinations, dreaming, nightmares and dream acting symptoms all because of a diagnosis of Lewy body dementia. Using my faith as my foundation and searching for ways to have a better quality of life has enabled me to have peace and joy even amidst my circumstances of life.
Let's turn to something that is much more important to me. My bride, Judy Shaver Bowles, is my earthly anchor. She is my rock. We have loved each other unconditionally for 46 years. We have three wonderful children with beautiful families and seven grandchildren that are the joy of our life.
Seeing Judy struggle as she whiteness the changes in me without regard to time or place breaks my heart. The pain and heartbreak that I see in her eyes and face at times is very sobering. There are times I go into my office and just cry behind closed doors. I can't fix her Rheumatoid Arthritis nor can I fix my LBD. I can only pray for her.
I know that I will be fine regardless of my situation, but I continue to cry as I think about the uncertainties that she must feel. The stress that dementia caregivers are experiencing is unimaginable to anyone who has not been a dementia caregiver. I would suggest that the grief starts early in the disease process for most caregivers and continues beyond the loss of their loved one. What a burden to live with.
To ALL of you caregivers: You face each day with grace and dignity driven by faith, determination and strength. Each of our families affected by dementia must focus on the good times and enjoy them to the fullest. We must support other families affected by dementia for it is by getting outside of ourselves that we find we do better. For those families dealing with less optimistic situations, look for those snapshots that take place and cherish them. You will be glad you did.
From the bottom of my heart, I say THANK YOU to all dementia caregivers. You are truly the champions in this journey. You have given of yourself unconditionally, lost relationships and friends and have done what you were called to do to the best of your ability. To EACH ONE OF YOU, please continue to take care of yourself. That is what we want. My thoughts and prayers will continue with every family affected by dementia. One day, there will be a cure, but for now, let's focus on care before cure. Love to each of you!
© November 13, 2016 Robert Bowles
Robert Bowles, Jr.