From the time I stepped into Mom's world of chaos in living with dementia to her last breath, I have learned so much. In those early years I had no clue as a new caregiver of what I was doing or what to expect, and especially where to find helpful resources. As I learned valuable lessons I started to feel intuitive guidance to share my story related to challenges, choices, and overall outcomes. Sharing came naturally when I started blogging but when God started to show me images of speaking in person on brightly lit stages, I felt more fear than hope from being in vulnerable spaces.
Podcasting became the starting point of embracing this journey in a different way. There had to be some form of a platform to take a little step towards faith in using a microphone without a stage. The leap would come later with much needed camera therapy. If I could go back in time I would ask Moses, "Did you feel courageous as you picked up the staff or did you need to test it before you could trust your voice?" Not only did I lack a courageous feeling in transitioning from podcasting to YouTube, but I still didn't even like the sound of my own voice.
As Mom and I approached unknown territory in figuring out how to fulfill her needs, we argued most days yet still laughed quite a bit. Even if I did not appreciate Mom's silly side in the doctor's office, I was grateful that her inner performer stayed intact to the very end. That's the side I wanted others to see to bring hope such a heartbreaking journey. The more I learned because of our challenges, the more my path to sharing our journey lit up.
I knew from the beginning I wanted to share our story but also provide the lessons I had learned without sounding judgey or too preachy. There was plenty of information teaching caregivers on how to handle Activities of Daily living but there was not much about caring for the caregiver. In the first year of podcasting, in 2020, I covered twenty-eight topics from caregiver routines, nutrition, exercise, Ayurvedic massage, legal compliance, music therapy, enneagrams, and preventative dentistry for seniors. All of these topics came directly from the challenges I faced in providing Mom a safe environment with her well-being in mind.
The next season in 2021, there was a bit more challenges because of Mom's progression in living with Dementia. Understanding what was happening to Mom made me hyperfocus on preventing my demise. I became determined to prove how living with Dementia is not solely connected to genetics. It wasn't enough to prove it to myself though. I was compelled to prove it to you, too! Over the next thirty-two episodes, I covered the stages of Dementia and related causes beyond genetics such as sleep apnea, cancer, and the need for restoration. In efforts to show preventative food for thought we covered topics to cultivate creativity, recreational intervention, culture diversity, and even the need for sexual expression. I even shared the side of a jealous caregiver and the broken industry of assisted living and memory care.
Over the 2022, the journey became increasingly more difficult as it felt more personal. I felt guided to share the dilemmas tied to relationship building, reality checks with diabetes and hospice services, and the feelings of failure. Not only was Mom's progression happening faster at this point, I was beginning to experience perimenopause and energetic changes spiritually. I touched on shifting hormones related to dementia prevention because of the overwhelm and emotional challenges connected with letting go. Although Covid gave caregivers a spotlight on the insane amount of challenges we face, this year seemed to be the switch in awareness in how an ignorant healthcare industry affects the caregiver with a loved one living with dementia. The public crisis was a shocking reality even though it was not knew to millions of others shuffled through our current system.
During the 2023 season, we reached a mile stone I did not expect, the 100th episode. Even though I had to find my voice and gradually soothe my inner critique to get on camera, God's plan is finally making more sense to me. This year was the hardest one because Mom's suffering came to an end. I was shown so much mercy and grace by many caregivers along the way. However, I also was shown an ugly side to the business of caregiving. There was not much laughter this year because I shared the challenges from the difference between good and bad hospice companies. It affected my health in ways no one really knows how to make these connections with out guidance.
I acknowledge how this past season was happening for me and not to me. Where I was challenged by the industry of healthcare providers related to dementia care, I was blessed to be connected with others in alternative healing methods and understanding how relationship contracts change with our roles. Physical therapists at Moench Method, a fabulous nutritionists, and wonderful aromatherapist all shed so much light during my darkest moments. God continued to bless me by guiding me to an intimacy coach who share her stories on the importance of balancing our nervous system.
The lie that we live in because our capitalistic society would rather profit from your pain and suffering rather than heal you lit a fire in me I did not know was possible. I want to tell more stories so that we can all continue to learn from each other because that is the most expensive lesson learned from the destruction of our family. We. Are. Stronger. Together.
So many more topics come to mind because the world is evolving in ways that makes change possible. Caregivers need help and they need it now. We can't be a political chess piece. The world is gravitating towards an awakening. God has made it clear to me through my time as Mom's guardian. We can either choose to gravitate towards a mindless unraveling or we can become mindful and live each day purposefully. I choose purpose. What say you?