As an Alzheimer’s caregiver, how can I pause and be thankful this Thanksgiving?
Pause: Of course to rest, reflect or recover, but also to appreciate, gain perspective, connect with others, listen, focus or have new ideas. …
58 years ago, the American minister and activist Martin Luther King Jr. his “I Have a Dream” speech, one of the most influential speeches in world history. An interesting fact in the famous speech was that there was a pause of 10 seconds by the late beloved minister.
His advisors persuaded him to omit the “I have a dream” phrase, so he obliged and began this speech in a lecture format, but failed to capture the audience’s attention. This realization caused him to pause for 10 seconds, after which he heard the words “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” exclaimed gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Then he put aside his prepared speech and began to speak extemporaneously. This 10-second pause is what changed history.
What would happen if you, the Alzheimer’s caregiver, put this Thanksgiving on hold? More than likely, it wouldn’t change history, but it could change your well-being and your outlook on your caregiving journey.
“Intentional pausing opens a space before our response or reaction. This space creates a moment for the first reactive wave of emotion to move through us rather than capture and consume us. Within this space there is room for calmer, clearer thinking and feeling through the distance created between the prehistory and our behavior.The magic opened and released through this pause is the ushering in of a new moment—one in which we are free to choose our response rather than being dependent on an impulsive response.” (www.elleihome.com/blogs; May 2022)
Pause for the joy of the moment. Have you noticed your loved one’s smile recently? Have you loved that touch, a twinkle in the eye, the spontaneous laugh or maybe a familiar tune sung together?
Pause to promote patience when dealing with behavioral expressions with your loved one. Patience cultivates tolerance, builds strength and promotes inner calm and the ability to handle whatever is undertaken.
Pause to appreciate the value of quality time. Simple pleasures that fully meet basic needs – a back rub, hair brushing, hand massage. For you at times these simple pleasures are more of “work” in nature; But for your loved one, they are grateful for that special touch and that someone is there to meet those daily needs.
When you feel overwhelmed, pause and remember how strong and brave you are. Pause for self-care – to take deep breaths, to meditate, to re-energize, to be grateful for things in life now.
In this season of Thanksgiving, amidst great challenges in the Alzheimer’s journey, pause for the blessings of being a caregiver and a care recipient; for it is at best mutual. A 10-second pause may not change history, but it can have an impact on your outlook and well-being, and you may discover the magic released by a pause that ushers in a new moment for you and your loved one.