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Caregiver’s Corner

TO SUPPORT AND CELEBRATE FAMILY CAREGIVERS

by Barbara Gaughen-Muller

Finding Joy in the Holidays

“Let those who love you, help you” was written in the little book my late husband Robert Muller always carried with him.

That little book now sits on my desk as a reminder of the love and joy we shared and the friends who helped in my journey as his caretaker.

Those words carried me through some tough times especially with birthdays and Holidays. Every birthday was made special with family and friends and parties at pizza restaurants. I learned some important lessons. First, view the approaching birthday or holiday as a happy occasion.

Second, give up perfection for the joy of being with family and friends. At every party, Robert reflected the mood, with all the laughter and music, he was happier than I thought possible. Each party had a theme with balloons, Hawaiian leis and lots of refreshments brought by friends who helped me. I made sure Robert never felt left out; in fact he was the center of attention.

Third, keep smiling. I kept my smile on and so did Robert. The practice of being cheerful really paid off during the Holidays when friends stopped by. Thanksgiving was celebrated with the delicious food brought by others to our home.

And, finally, the lesson I learned over and over take care of yourself first so you have the strength to take care of another. Keep your power, your thoughts and expectations happy. It is really hard for those with dementia to travel, to go to hotels, to be in unfamiliar rooms, so travel with Robert was out of the question, but that didn’t stop me from visiting my grandchildren. At Christmas with the house all aglow with tree and lights, I would hire a caretaker or have a friend to spend the night and off I drove delivering presents and goodies. A night away did wonders for me and making sure Robert was home with a trusted friend made my trip a time for my renewal.

Changing the way you perceive the Holidays opens the door to your joy and Happiness.