Reflection, Reframing and Reimagining (repeat of Episode 4, Season 1)
Susan Bithrey and her husband Reg were looking forward to the perfect retirement until life interrupted. Susan describes how she reframed her experience and found ways to affirm her husband’s strengths, even as they diminished. In the process, she found new strengths within herself.
As a retirement gift, Susan was given a journal to record their many “golden year’s” adventures that they had planned together. Instead it sat empty until a year before Reg’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis when she started to keep an account of her concerns about his memory struggles. It became a five-volume tool for documenting the disease and for reflective learning for her and she generously shares her very poignant first entry with us.
Susan honestly reflects on having to learn on the job of becoming a caregiver; figuring out how and when to roll up her sleeves and jump in and when to have Reg speak for himself, make his own decisions and recognize his ability to do so. She also bravely shares some stories surrounding the heartbreaking personality changes that her husband went through and recommends grief counseling for caregivers in this situation.
Her humble and wise words to conclude this episode will resonate with anyone else encountering the same circumstances.
Resources that may be helpful to listeners of this episode include:
Shifting the Focus – a quick guide to behaviours associated with dementia and some tips on responses. https://brainxchange.ca/Public/Files/Behaviour/ShiftingFocusBooklet.aspx
In Ontario, there is an extensive network related to behavioural supports that includes services, as well as information resources. They can be accessed at https://www.behaviouralsupportsontario.ca
The Research Institute on Aging at the University of Waterloo publishes a series –By Us, For Us which are information booklets created by people with lived experience. These can be found at https://the-ria.ca/resources/by-us-for-us-guides/