Independence Day for Caregivers

Our loved ones rely on us. We want to be there for them, but caregivers need some independence, too. I’m not asking for fireworks and cannons. An hour laughing with friends can feel revolutionary. Can someone help you enjoy a bit of precious liberty?

Between the Pond and the Woods

#SolsticeTSq

My sister is the hero who allowed me to reclaim some independence. She’s stepped in on key occasions to help provide needed respite. Two weeks ago I was able to spend a day in New York City for the annual Yoga in Times Square celebration. This is the second year I’ve gone to NYC on the Summer Solstice to throw my yoga mat down in the middle of one of America’s busiest streets. The photo above shows the marquee of One Times Square, where the ball drops to mark the start of each New Year. On the Solstice, the City of New York blocks streets around the Square so thousands of people can practice yoga with others arriving from all parts of the world.

Although the Solstice fell two weeks before the Fourth of July, that day felt like my own personal Independence Day. The night before the solstice, my sister drove to my house to serve as temporary caregiver for my mom. I drove away early on Sunday morning and travelled two hours to the city. There were no traffic problems and I found a free parking space on a street in mid-town Manhattan. I felt like I’d won the lottery. My yoga class was wonderful and I got to visit some New York friends I rarely get to see.

Doing yoga with thirty thousand other people may not seem like the right kind of break for you. In fact, it may not sound relaxing at all. But I assure you that my single day of liberty re-charged me fully — on the physical and emotional level. I returned to my caregiver duties feeling much stronger and more compassionate. I hope that you can identify a sibling, a cousin, or a friend who can help you have your own Independence Day. Find someone you can trust who can give you the minimum break needed to restore your strength and enhance your ability to deliver care. You deserve fireworks and cannons, too, but if you keep your request low-key, you may find you don’t need that other stuff.

Father’s Day for Those with Dementia

For those who have fathers or grandfathers with dementia, Father’s Day may be a hard day. When shared memories disappear, we need to find creative ways to celebrate our relationships. Here are a few ideas drawn from a song sung by Kenny Chesney, entitled “While He Still Knows Who I Am.”

Between the Pond and the Woods

If you’ve never heard this song, it’s a good place to start when you’re struggling with the emotional load of Father’s Day.

While He still Knows Who I Am                                                                        (Written by Dave Berg, Tom Douglas, and Georgia Middleman)

Mama says he can’t remember
Daddy thinks that he still can
I’m goin back to see him
While he still knows who I am

This time I’m gonna hug him instead of just shakin hands
Gonna tell him that I love him
While he still knows who I am

I only knew him as my father
I’m gonna get to know the man
I’m goin back to see him
While he still knows who I am

This time I’m gonna kiss him, instead of just shakin hands
Gonna tell him that I love him
While he still knows who I am

I know I can’t turn back time
We’ll slow it down while we can
I’m goin home to see him
While he still knows who I am
While he still knows who I am

If you like the message of the song, check out the Youtube video of Kenny Chesney singing it. The short film illustrates what most of us already know. It’s not the grand gestures that matter most. It’s warm hugs and cold ice cream, laughter and tears. May you enjoy a Father’s Day memory or moment of peace today. If you’re really feeling down, check out another favorite Kenny Chesney song, “I’m Alive”, because no matter how bad things may seem, it’s still a privilege to be here.