For those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, the changes that occur as the disease progresses can be difficult to cope with. In Part I of this article, we discussed how cognitive decline can influence a person’s spirituality and, likewise, how spirituality can enrich a person’s life through their illness. Now, we focus our attention on those who cope with dementia in different ways – family caregivers.
“The spouse, adult child or sibling caring for a person with memory loss deals with the many challenges of dementia from a different perspective,” says Cydney Hansen, Marketing Director at CountryHouse, a memory care community in Granite Bay, CA. “While they may not be suffering from the illness themselves, they are first-hand witnesses to its effects on the life of their loved one and their own daily experience. Caregivers must have a source of strength and resiliency in order to maintain good mental health and bear the emotional burdens that come with caring for a loved one with memory loss. For many, that source is their spirituality and belief in something beyond their circumstances.”
Considering Your Spiritual Experience
As we mentioned in Part I, spirituality can mean something different to everyone. Although many connect their spirituality to a form of religion, others may view spirituality as their sense of self or being alive. Here, we consider spirituality and spiritual health to mean your connection to something greater than yourself, or something that you find sacred. However you define spirituality, many caregivers find that spiritual health is vital to maintaining emotional, mental and even physical well-being.
According to Eric J. Hall, President & CEO of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, Chairman of Alzheimer’s Global Initiative, leaning on one’s spirituality can help caregivers cope with the challenges that dementia places on their families. Here are just a few examples of how you can tap into your spirituality to benefit your caregiving experience:
- Finding Peace – Whether it’s for a lifetime or just a moment, many experience greater peace through spirituality. Believing that a higher power is in control and looking out for you may provide a greater sense of comfort whenever you go through hard times. Sometimes, we can find peace simply by taking a moment to clear our head and breathe, pray or be in nature. Focusing on your spiritual health can allow you to gain perspective and strength.
- Deep Connection with Others – Spiritual health doesn’t have to be something you take care of by yourself. Being vulnerable enough with other people to have a deep conversation about your spirituality or your emotional well-being can be extremely beneficial for caregivers. Being in the presence of and talking to someone who genuinely cares about you can remind you that you’re not alone in your journey.
- Providing Meaning – When we go through difficult periods in our lives, it can be easy to question the meaning of our or someone else’s suffering. As caregivers, we might wonder why our loved one has to go through the pain and loss of dementia. These kinds of thoughts have the potential to lead to pitfalls of despair unless we find something to hold onto that gives us hope. One’s spiritual beliefs, whether it’s in God or the goodness of the universe or the journey of growing spiritually, can provide a lifeline for those difficult questions. We may not find the answers, but at least we can believe that answers exist.
- Lowering Stress – All of these examples so far can help you reduce stress. Changing your perspective on a problem or offering a challenge you’re facing to the hands of a higher power can allow you to relax, even if the problem hasn’t gone away. Often, caregivers experience stress because they feel responsible for everything in their loved one’s life. However, when they realize that some things cannot be controlled, it allows them to release some of the weight they carry and reduce the amount of stress they feel.
- Enhancing Your Loved One’s Life – Caring for your own spiritual health can certainly make you a better caregiver. Additionally, caring for your loved one’s spiritual well-being can enhance their quality of life as well. If your loved one is religious, help them participate in their traditions and beliefs. Play spiritual music or sing hymns together. Take them to a worship service or read a spiritual text to them. All the benefits that you experience from spirituality, your loved one can experience them, too. Let your loved one’s life continue to be blessed by the spiritual beliefs they’ve held onto.
Finding Friends in the Journey
One thing that caregiving and spirituality have in common is that they shouldn’t exist in isolation. Caregivers need others in their lives to offer support and encouragement. If you don’t have a trusted person to turn to, we urge you to reach out to CountryHouse.
“Our community is designed for comfort and connection,” says Hansen, “not just for our residents, but for their families and those who are caring for loved ones at home. We gladly offer support and guidance to family caregivers who need a partner in their caregiving journey.”
If you would like to connect with CountryHouse, or learn more about spirituality and what it means for your caregiving lifestyle, call us today to speak with a member of our team.
Treating people like family is at the heart of what we do.
CountryHouse at Granite Bay is the very first CountryHouse location in California. With a desirable location among Folsom Lake and the Sierra foothills, and only 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, Granite Bay was the perfect area to place our upscale memory care community. While CountryHouse at Granite Bay may be brand new to California, we are certainly not new to the needs of seniors. And just like every CountryHouse around the United States, we know that personalized care can make all the difference when it comes to quality care and peace of mind.
At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we provide personalized memory care in an environment that is beautiful and thoughtfully designed. Full of natural light, warmth and tasteful elegance, we want residents and their families to feel welcome and at home. In fact, our staff members are even hand-picked based on their natural empathy. Our staff learns each resident’s story, from their likes and dislikes to their values and their pasts, in order to customize care and make meaningful connections that provide residents with true moments of joy and the desire to make the most of each day.
With our LifeCycles wellness programming, we encourage residents to connect, engage and enjoy every day. Our LifeCycles programming is designed to focus on the four dimensions of wellness: physical, social, spiritual and intellectual. We achieve this through a range of daily activities and routines, which can include daily bus rides, cookouts, trips and other special events. At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we strive to make sure our residents make the most of each day, and we believe that when you treat people like family, and keep that at the heart of what you do, residents, their families and their health thrive. Contact us to learn more!
Connect with us today or call us at 916•850•2774 for more information or to schedule a visit.
CountryHouse is part of the Agemark family of senior living communities.