As the “2020” Summer Olympic games have been playing out in the summer of 2021, delayed due to the pandemic, I can’t help but think about the qualities of the athletes. Their courage. Their perseverance. Their strength. Each athlete has lofty goals that have consumed their lives, with the vision of reaching this pinnacle of achievement. These lofty goals have been pursued at great cost and with tremendous support from coaches, family members and communities. These athletes have waited a long time and made a sustained effort. Their work and dedication is transformative and shapes who they are in a way that is truly inspirational!!
While pondering the incredible effort and extreme pride of achievement for athletes having the tremendous privilege to compete at the Olympics, I have been as keenly aware of people that I care for who are facing a different kind of challenge. Not a challenge they have chosen, but that they have faced and embraced with a practical outlook and understanding. I am talking about care partners who are caring for a family member living with dementia.
Care partners show similar qualities of courage, perseverance, strength, and dedication. The lives of care partners have been transformed not by single-minded pursuit of a goal, but by illness and vulnerability. They have responded to life-altering challenge with love and determination, and have adapted their lives with care and compassion for a loved one facing dementia. And they have done so in the midst of grief, sometimes taking on roles that they never bargained for and facing a steep learning curve on top of everything else. Care partners are true everyday champions.
In the same way that Olympic athletes have a whole community of support, with parents, coaches, friends and sponsors, care partners need practical help and support from family, friends, and neighbours, and from their faith community. There are many ways to help out. People living with dementia retain many skills and abilities for quite some time, especially if there is an early diagnosis, so there are many activities that can be meaningful with just a little bit of caring support.
As an individual, you can help by maintaining a social connection and by offering to share an activity together that the person living with dementia is still able to do (e.g. walks, games, shopping trips, do word searches together). This allows the care partner some time to deal with other things without worrying about their loved one. You can seek to learn more about dementia so that you can be an understanding friend that includes people in meaningful ways according to their comfort level.
If you are part of a faith community who has perceived a call to be a champion for these everyday champions, you can research ways that congregations can be more “dementia friendly” and provide practical support and spiritual nurture to families living with dementia. Check out the action plan at this link: http://lovingthroughdementia.org/actionplan.html to get started. These are all good steps toward a faithful response to families living with dementia, and when it’s safe to gather in person again, please prayerfully consider starting a Side by Side program. Learn more here and start planning now!
While I’m here, I will just highlight that some new word searches have been added to the Program Resources page. These are dementia friendly, with large print, and no words in reverse. For easy reference, here is a list of the new files.
Summer Olympics Word Searches
Other New Word Searches
(in alphabetical order)
Lifting up prayers for all the everyday champions living out a life of challenge on a daily basis with grace, dedication, and perseverance. May God’s blessing rest on you and may the Holy Spirit lift you up so that you know you do not journey alone.
Love in Christ,
Let’s build something together.
God is weaving a tapestry of care
that connects all of us in Grace.
Come. Be part of it.
© sidebyside.care 2020