OVERJOYED- Caring for loved one with Alzheimers/ dementia or special needs child

For those who are caring for a loved one who does not intact cognitive function, such as a parent who have dementia/ Alzheimers, a special needs child or an autistic sibling….. by looking at it from another perspective, we can discover joy in caring for them. Check out my Shorts video:

I speak humbly from my own experience as well as experience of friends who are currently caring for either a special needs child or an autistic sibling. Initially it may be tough to adjust and understand them and their needs.

But with time, we would understand their temperament, the nuances and meaning of their expressions and behavours. Each person is unique but one thing I’ve noticed is when cognitive function is not intact or declining, they become more sensitive towards the vibe and moods of the people around them, especially their caregivers.

If we are feeling impatient, angry or frustrated when we are with them, even though we try not to show or say, somehow they would be able to pick up. For special needs children, they may throw a tantrum. For someone with Alzheimers/dementia, their body may stiffen and they may be uncorporative and even hostile. The more advanced is their cognitive decline, the more pronounced this sensory seemed to be.

I have been caring for my mother with her not remembering who I am for more than 2 years. I cared for her because I loved her deeply as she has been the most wonderful mother to me who sacrificed her life to raise us. I did not realize that I mean anything to her since she had forgotten I am her daughter.

But in October last year, my mom had serious pneunomia and was treated in ICU in order to place her on a ventilator (to delivery oxygen to her weakened lungs). The ICU ward did not allow any family members to visit due to fear of Covid infecting the already critical patients. For about a week, I was not with my mom and this is the first time in years that I have been separated from her. After her tracheostomy, they transferred her down to the common ward where I was allowed to stay with her.

The moment I arrived at her bed, I was speaking to the nurse to get an update about her condition. Upon hearing my voice, my mom immediately opened her eyes and tried to mutter some words but due to the trach tube, no sound came out. I then held her hand and she grabbed on my hand tightly, as if saying to me please do not leave her. I almost cried in front of the nurse.

I arranged to transfer her to a private room where I could stay with her and she could be more comfortable. She had severe pneunomia and a collasped lung…. yet she showed quick recovery which surprised both the doctor and the nurses. She would open her eyes, saw that I was around, and close them back as if reassured, and then go to sleep or rest. With the trach tube and ongoing oxygen (via oxygen concentrator machine), my mom recovered, become more alert and smiling more compared to last time. This give a lot of joy to my heart to see her so comfortable, carefree and happy.

I have a few friends who have a special needs child to care for. Initially they struggled and was stressed out. But with time, they begin to use their heart to understand their child instead of using their brain and logic. They also devleoped compassion, patience and understanding of their child. When their demeanor change, their child could pick up on their vibe and changed…. becoming less edgy and reactive.

We are not able to change the circumstances of the hand of fate that we have been dealt with. But we can change our perspective and the way we view the situation. I realized very early on that being sad and depressed would not help…. in fact it would drain my energy and cause me to unable to carry out my caregiving duties well. When I changed my perspective of viewing my situation, I am able to instead find joy and appreciation ……and be able to see that in my mom’s own carefree world, she is no longer mentally and emotionally suffering. The illness in a sense had been merciful to her.

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