How can I develop a more positive life perspective when I am witnessing the fast progression of my loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease?

It is so difficult to watch a loved one deteriorate, mentally and physically, especially through the long and arduous journey of Alzheimer’s disease. Even more difficult is trying to maintain a positive outlook on life and surrender to total acceptance of this journey.

Perhaps for the coming new year you can make a resolve not only to try to have a more favorable disposition, but also strive to let go of unnecessary expectations you may have placed on yourself or others, or even your loved one.

Spend some time in personal reflection to accept what is happening with your loved one. As you both experience the “hills and valleys” of this disease, learn to appreciate your loved one’s capabilities at these stages and do whatever you can to empower him/her to use those capabilities to sustain a quality of life.

It might be helpful for you to keep a daily journal, recording thoughts and feelings and acknowledging them, whether they are ones of anger, sadness, joy or anxiety. The journal is also helpful in “counting your blessings.” Expressing gratitude, even in the midst of your darkness, can help ease stresses and put you in a greater frame of mind. Additionally, being grateful can help you focus on the things your loved one is capable of doing now rather than the abilities he/she has lost.

Find some activities mutually enjoyable for both of you and celebrate the time together. Put yourself in your loved one’s shoes and you can gain a greater understanding of his/her world, and, in turn, you can find satisfaction when days are particularly difficult.

For the new year, promise to set aside more time for just you; practice meditation and deep breathing, for instance, or enroll in a Pilates or yoga class. Remain engaged with others in your life and stay focused on keeping a positive attitude even on those most challenging days. By spending some time in reflection you can improve your emotional awareness and develop better coping skills and a better overall outlook as a caregiver, which in turn, will produce quality care for your loved one.

Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, advice@alzbr.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.