The alarm clock buzzes and jolts you awake from your already disturbed sleep … you roll over to hit the “snooze” button … but can’t doze off again. Your mind is racing with today’s lengthy “to-do” list. Such is the morning routine for many caregivers of people with dementia.
There can be a better way to start the day.
By praying or meditating each morning, caregivers may find comfort and direction. Set the tone for a “better day” and reduce the ever-increasing stress.
Finding a healthy outlet to deal with all of this is better than keeping it bottled up inside of you. Speaking from my own experience, I tried, unsuccessfully, to hide negative thoughts and emotions. Managing Mom’s Parkinson’s disease and Leukemia along with Dad’s Alzheimer’s disease soon got the better of me. I became stressed and realized I needed a healthy outlet.
Place your written prayer or meditation on your bedside table, tuck it inside the book you’ve promised to finish, or tape it to your bathroom mirror or bookmark it on your smartphone. Read the words out loud. Personally, I have always found that speaking words is more powerful and meaningful than simply reading them silently.
Your thoughts are personal, and you may want to create your own prayer or meditation. Here are some to get you started.
Prayers for Caregivers
Christian Prayer for Caregivers
Dear heavenly Father,
Provide the words of comfort I can say.
Provide strength to make it through this day.
I cannot fix things or take control.
I accept this, trust in you, and let it go.
Help me listen and be present through the grief.
When I grow weary, provide me with relief.
May this experience transcend this earthly plain.
Help us find greater meaning beyond just pain.
Heal our wounded places.
Restore us to wholeness.
Provide your peace and loving presence to guide us and to hold us.
In the name of your Son, the Great Physician.
A Caregiver’s Prayer (Christian)
by Bruce McIntyre
Judaic Prayer for People with Dementia and Their Caregivers
(Excerpt below, see full text at RitualWell).
do not abandon (name of person)
in her time of need
and great distress,
in this time of transition.
Enfold her and her family
and all those who care for her
under the wings of Shekinah,
Bless them with peace, tranquility, calm
in the midst of the whirlwind
of this terrible illness.
Islamic Prayer for Our Parents
O Allah care for our parents as they used to care for us, and make us pleasing to you and to them in our manners.
O Allah, Who taught our parents so much love and forgiveness for us, open our hearts to our parents and forgive us whenever we forget or err.
12 Steps for Caregivers, or “The Caregiver’s Prayer”
Although I cannot control the disease process, I need to remember I can control many aspects of how it affects me and my relative. I need to:
Take care of myself so that I can continue doing the things that are most important.
Simplify my lifestyle so that my time and energy are available for things that are really important at this time.
Cultivate the gift of allowing others to help me, because caring for my relative is too big a job to be done by one person.
Take one day at a time rather than worry about what may or may not happen in the future.
Structure my day, because a consistent schedule makes life easier for me and my relative.
Have a sense of humor, because laughter helps to put things in a more positive perspective.
Remember that my relative is not being “difficult” on purpose, rather that his/her behavior and emotions are distorted by the illness.
Focus on and enjoy what my relative can still do rather than constantly lament over what is gone.
Increasingly depend upon other relationships for love and support.
Frequently remind myself that I am doing the best that I can at this very moment.
Draw upon the Higher Power, which I believe is available to me.
Meditation for Caregivers
Meditations can reduce mounting stress. People who meditate become calmer – both in the ways they approach work and complete work. This is not surprising as when the mind is at rest, the body is more at rest. This mindset can have spin-off benefits because the caregiver is calmer, the care partner can become calmer too.
This Caregiver’s Bill of Rights
I have the right:
- To take care of myself. Caregiving is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capability of taking better care of my loved one.
- To seek help from others even though my loved ones may object. Only I can recognize the limits of my endurance and strength.
- To maintain facets of my life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things just for myself.
- To get angry, be depressed, and express other difficult feelings occasionally.
- To reject any attempts by my loved one (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, and/or depression.
- To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do, from my loved ones, for as long as I offer these qualities in return.
- To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my loved one.
- To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my loved one no longer needs my full-time help.
- To expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically- and mentally-impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made towards aiding and supporting caregivers.
As a busy and – likely – overwhelmed caregiver for someone with dementia, praying and/or meditating may help you … find some words which hold meaning for you and revisit these words as often as needed. It certainly won’t hurt to give it a try!
- 12 Steps for Caregivers was written by Carol J. Farran, DNSc, RN, and Eleanore Keane-Hagerty, MA, in 1989 and printed in The American Journal of Alzheimer”s Care and Related Disorders & Research.
- Jo Horne’s Caregiver’s Bill of Rights is adapted from the book, “Care Giving: Helping an Aging Loved One” by Jo Horne, published in 1985 by the American Association of Retired Persons.