Our loved one with dementia has already been coping with the expert level slope while we weren’t looking. Go there with them, it’s okay to fall.
One of my most cherished mentors and dear friend (Wendy) is a dynamo of a nurse, leader, coach, trainer, mom, wife and innovator in the field of senior housing.
She was presenting to a group of healthcare executives over a decade ago and told a story that I refer to to this day, when talking with family caregivers.
Wendy grew up in Utah and her dad would often take Wendy and her sister skiing at one of the picturesque slopes that they were lucky enough to have in their backyard.
Wendy shared that during their teen years, she and her sister would often leave their Dad to spend the day enjoying the mountain with their friends, often only meeting up with Dad so that he could pay for their lift ticket or buy them lunch (how many of you recognize your own teens’ behavior here?).
Wendy’s Dad said that he would only pay for her lift ticket if she fell down at least once each trip.
One day, Wendy’s Dad said that he would only pay for her lift ticket if she fell down at least once each trip. At an age where the need for peer acceptance and approval is perhaps at an all-time high, this seemed a cruel punishment.
How would it look to everyone else when, instead of gliding down the hill with her finely honed skills, she tackled harder courses that could cause her embarrassment if she failed? What would her friends think? What if the cute boy saw this happen?
Instead of her worst fears being realized, something else happened. Wendy changed her mindset because of her Dad’s counsel and it altered the course of her life, and the countless allied healthcare professionals she would inspire.
Wendy learned three powerful lessons that even I, a non-skier, perfectly understand and can apply to family caregivers of persons living with dementia.
Three powerful lessons. NEXT
When Caring Takes Courage: A Compassionate, Interactive Guide for Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers
Mara’s passion and life’s work has been to learn the best practices which capable caregivers (both professional and family member) use to find success, joy and hope in the face of this devastating disease and find a way to share that information with those who deal with dementia on a day-to-day basis. She is the 2015 Jefferson Award Recipient: Outstanding Public Service, and the 2015 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award Recipient: Outstanding Public Service on Behalf of and Throughout the United States. She continues to be an active speaker and advocate for those impacted by dementia worldwide. Learn more about her work at: www.whencaringtakescourage.com.
About the author