“You need to do something fun,” a friend said.
“I’m too tired to think of something fun,” I said.
My parents were going through a particularly hard time; my mother’s behavior had gone beyond the scope of assisted living and they had advised that she go into a psych ward to have her medications re-evaluated. My father was worn to a frazzle and we were both unnerved by Mom’s zombie-like appearance as the doctors tried to figure out the correct combination of medicines. Fun seemed like a word from another planet.
Yet I realized my friend was right: I needed to do something that would cheer me onward.
Creating Fun-Sized Options
So early one morning, before I was tired or confused or sad, I made a list of little items or activities that gave me a sense of well-being. At first, the list was small—I was too brain-worn to think of much:
- Eat chocolate.
- Read for pleasure.
- Do a crossword puzzle.
- Walk outside.
- Talk with people I cared about.
I crammed the list into my pocket and when I thought of something new, I jotted it down. During the next week I added:
- Listen to Dancing Queen.
- Hold a stuffed bear.
- Go to yoga.
- Sleep late.
- Dance to Dancing Queen.
That weekend, I vowed I would do three things on my list. I ate chocolate (okay, that was an easy one, but I had to start somewhere!), talked with a friend, and read two chapters of a mystery.
I felt lifted up, as renewed as if I’d had four hours in the spa. And I still was there for my parents, my work, and other life responsibilities. So I continued the process of adding to my list and incorporating one fun thing into every day.
Sometimes it was only part of a crossword puzzle or creating a three-minute collage while I was on hold with my mother’s doctor. But even those few minutes gave me back a part of myself and allowed me to more fully appreciate my interesting and chaotic life.
Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey (Central Recovery Press Nov 2013.) Deborah focuses on finding the gifts, blessings and connections in the care partner’s journey through Alzheimer’s. Originally, Deborah self-published and used the book as a catalyst to raise more than $80,000 for Alzheimer’s programs and research. She will continue donate a portion of her proceeds to Alzheimer’s.
Deborah and her partner Ron Zoglin have performed her writings for audiences in the United States, New Zealand, Nova Scotia, Puerto Rico, England, Ireland, Chile, Costa Rica, Italy, Turkey and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
To learn more about Deborah’s work, visit her blog DeborahShouseWrites.wordpress.com
Or follow her on Twitter: @DeborahShouse
To buy Love in the Land of Dementia, visit your local bookseller or favorite on-line retailer.See Reviews of the book at www.deborahshousewrites.wordpress.com/news-reviews/
Family Caregiver, Alzheimer’s Advocate, Writer and Speaker