Saturday, 15 July 2017 10:04

Losing Ground?

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Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Alzheimer’s is a dreadful disease. Over the last year and a half, my father has steadily deteriorated as his cognitive abilities decline. As his primary caregiver, every change he experiences has an equal, if not bigger, effect on me. At the start of the year I was struggling to adjust; for every step back my father took, it felt as if Alzheimer's was asking me to give up more ground. The sheer weight of it was suffocating and with a long road ahead of us, it seemed insurmountable.

A few months later, things are going a lot better. What changed? Sadly, not the reality. My father is still deteriorating as the disease progresses. It’s me, I’ve changed. Having someone to bounce ideas off can be a great help. In my case, a simple conversation with Gregg, my own life coach helped me re-frame the situation in a more positive light.

The definition of re-framing is simple: it is to look at, present, or think of (beliefs, ideas, relationships, etc.) in a new or different way. That’s it. We see things from a different perspective and that alone changes how we engage with and respond to our experience.

Around the same time, I stumbled across the Navy Seals 40% Rule for cultivating mental toughness. Basically, the rule is that when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done. Marathon runners know this, they hit the wall physically but somehow find the will to push through to complete the race.

We all have this will. According to David Goggins, an ex Navy Seal, ‘The only way you gain mental toughness is to do things you are not happy doing. If you continue doing things you that you are satisfied with and that make you happy, you are not getting stronger’. While I'm certainly no marathon runner, the idea that I have 60% more reserves and resources within me has been profoundly encouraging. It’s a concept well worth remembering in those darker moments when you feel you have reached the end of your capacity.

Earlier this year, I described caring for someone with Alzheimer's like being trapped in Groundhog Day, on repeat. It is frustrating beyond belief to repeat basic things over and over without any possibility of it being remembered. Now, instead of focusing on what Alzheimer’s is taking away from my father and also from my own life, I see what it is giving me.

Infinite opportunities to be kinder and more patient, qualities I have aspired to my entire adult life. It turns out, not only is there room to breathe in this situation that felt so suffocating a few months ago, there is room to grow and blossom! Difficulties are often like that.

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Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

I'm a Personal Development Life Coach who specialises in L.I.F.E (Living Into your Fullest Expression). Based in Richards Bay, on the East Coast of South Africa, I live with my long-suffering husband, (his description!), two much-loved dogs and care for my elderly father who has Alzheimer's.

Read more about me here.

Comments  

# suchi 2017-07-20 06:52
my great grandma had alzhiemers and i still remember all that she went through...its tough
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-31 08:32
Sorry to hear you went through this with a family member, Suchi. It is tough.
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# Claire 2017-07-20 06:40
I am sorry this happened to you, but you are such an amazing person! I never had anyone close to me with Alzhimer's but thank you for being strong and sharing your story.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-08-02 19:46
Thanks Claire. As challenging as it has been, it is wonderful to be able to care for my dad at this time of his life.
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# Ellie Chan 2017-07-20 05:21
I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with Alzheimer's in your Father. I know what it's like to see someone you love's memories deteriorate.

Ellie
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-20 05:31
I'm sorry to hear you have first hand expereince of it Ellie. Cognitive decline is hard to witness.
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# Sierra 2017-07-19 09:23
My favorite part was when you shared the 40% rule from the Navy Seal. I think this mental note is so valuable in many parts of our lives. I think I'll try to remember it when I want to give up during a workout.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-20 05:30
I't's amazing isn't it! I find it such a help to remember in almost every area of my life!
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# David Elliott 2017-07-19 07:20
I do think you are right here. How we view things is how we relate to them. As we change the way we view something we can accept situations that would have seemed impossible to accept before. That's great you were able to reframe your situation with your dad.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-19 08:18
That is beautifully put, David. Acceptance has been far harder than I anticipated. Not so much with the biggies, but in those small, daily issues. For me, that has been where the work lies.
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# Sandy Dobbs 2017-07-18 21:33
I think caring for someone who cannot care for themselves is one of the greatest examples of human love. Alzheimer's is such a horrible thief. I commend you for your dedication to your father.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-19 08:17
Those are such lovely words, thank you, Sandy. I never expected the out pouring of support and it has been such a wonderful gift.
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# Nazrin 2017-07-18 16:43
I can't imagine the pain you must be feeling every single day & the amount of strength and courage it takes for you to get through your day. You are in my prayers
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-18 16:44
Thank you Nazrin, the support of prayer is so powerful.
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# sonali jain 2017-07-18 12:44
so sorry to hear about your father. glad you were able to re frame.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-18 16:49
I was so happy to be able to reframe, you have no idea, I really was taking some strain for a while and I have come a really long way!
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# Ana De- Jesus 2017-07-18 01:49
I am sorry to hear about your father, I worked as a community nurse before and know all too well how Alzheimers can be. I think you are right, to gain mental toughness we all have to do things that might be hard to bear and in a way it is a demonstration of how kind and generous your character is, we all have a choice and yours was to care for your father It is something that I admire x
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-18 16:48
Wow, Ana, I didn't know that about you. It makes your words even more precious for me, A very heartflet thank you, you have made me want to cry, but in a good way.
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# Mr Luke Christian 2017-07-17 21:58
My Grandad had Alzheimer's and it was devasting to see him slowly fade away.. It's an awful disease and one that more people need awareness about.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-18 16:46
Sorry to hear about your Grandad, Luke. It is hard and with so many people suffering from Alzheimer's these days I completely agree that we need more awareness.
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# Saurabh 2017-07-17 19:38
Thanks for a great piece packed with truth. And I’m especially glad that, I am reading this post.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-17 20:44
So glad you resonated, Saurabh,
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# Prateek Goel 2017-07-17 19:14
It's bad to hear that your father is suffering from Alzheimer's. It is sad to see someone in such a pain and you are helpless in it.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-17 20:44
Thanks, Prateek. Old age is filled with so many challenges, Alzheimer's is just one of the hard things to witness.
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# Laima 2017-07-17 16:21
I am so sorry to hear about your father. A close family member of mine is also suffering from an illness and I know how hard it can be. It is amazing that you've found a positive in this situation as well.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-17 19:41
It is challenging, Laima and I'm sorry to hear you are also experiencing it with someone close. It took a while to find my balance but it has made the world of difference to my coping skills, Not that I get it right all the time, far from it, but often enough is good enough!
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# chelf 2017-07-17 16:00
I can only imagine how hard it must be for everyone involved! You are so inspiring and you seem to be realistic yet handling the situation so well!
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-17 19:39
Ah, Chelf what a lovely comment! Thank you, it brought such a smile to my face.
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# Amalia 2017-07-17 15:44
As a nurse I care for many patients with Alzheimer and I totally understand what you're going through, keep positive and take some time just for yourself!
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-17 19:37
Alzheimer's and hospitals is a deadly combination and I must say, I have been so impressed with the kindness of the nurses that we have dealt with. And while I have you, thank you for the wonderful job you do. The world needs people like you!
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# Sona Sethi 2017-07-17 08:16
It is very challenging and hard to see someone you love and care in pain. I am really sorry that you have to go through this in your family. Be strong.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-17 19:35
The one thing I am extremely grateful for is that my father does not have physical pain. That is one of the hardest things to have to witness.
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# Jacqueline 2017-07-16 19:12
I am sorry you have to witness your father suffering from Alzheimer's. My Aunt had it and my Uncle looked after her. It is nothing like I've ever seen. Your outlook in any of your blog posts is always refreshing. I like the Navy Seals approach and I commend you for always seeing optimism
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-17 19:34
Thank you so much Jacqueline. Your support means a lot, especially having had an expereince of it in your own family.
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# Nelu Mbingu 2017-07-16 05:12
I read the book Still Alice and it really gave me perspective on people with Alzheimer's. I'm sorry that you have to go through this in you family. Stay strong
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-16 05:30
Thank you,for the support, Nelu, it is so appreciated. I saw the movieStill Alice and read Lisa Genova's other amazing book, It was called Left Neglect and was superb, It's about brain damage from a car accident and well worth reading!
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# Le 2017-07-16 05:03
I'm so glad you were able to reframe and see a few positives during this hard journey. Caring for a parent with Alzheimer's is hard.
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# Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 2017-07-16 05:26
Caring for anyone with special needs is incredible hard, probably harder because there simply is no respite. There is a relentlessness to it that takes some getting used to, or at least that has been my expereince.
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