I talk a lot about coping with the “new normal” when it came to my Mom’s dementia. My “new normal” included the acceptance of who she would become from the ravages of Dementia and how different my entire world was. The role shift we experienced as I became the caregiver to those who once cared for me was devastating and challenging.

My Mom’s dementia created a “New Normal”

I learned an incredible amount about myself and how I dealt with change. I had to fight my fear, resentment, and unconscious refusal to believe what was happening. My old habits died hard. It was really difficult and a constant work in progress. I tried not to long for the “old normal” and encourage myself to be open to all the change the “new normal” brought with it. It was messy and sloppy and imperfect but I did get through it and actually learned to embrace change a little.

Covid-19 has created a “New Normal”

We are now in global “new normal”. Our world has been turned upside down with COVID-19. I’m anxious and worried as many of us are with this game-changer. The stakes are high for all of us but even higher for those of us who care for someone vulnerable and at high risk.

I find myself applying the techniques I used for adapting to the change in my Mom

To cope with this global shift and changing times, I find myself resorting back to some of the strategies I applied when I was faced with the loss of my life as I knew it when I became a Caregiver Warrior for my parents.  I want to share some of those strategies with you. I’m hoping one or two of them might make a little bit of difference and give you some actionable things to do to stay hopeful and positive.

1. Take it slow. 

Give yourself some time to adjust to this. I know it feels like the apocalypse and the immediacy of it all is overwhelming, but give yourself a break. You are adjusting as quickly as you can. Slowly but surely you will lock into this and it’s rhythm and maybe even get in a groove. We are extraordinary beings, built with resources and mechanisms to survive and even thrive. They will kick in. Hear me loud and clear when I say “you got this”. Don’t beat yourself up about how fast you are handling the learning curve. You will get there.

2.One day at a time

Stay in today. Just for today. It’s so easy for all of us to project into the future but the reality is that we can only be sure about what is happening today. That’s the only real frame of reference we have. If the whole day becomes too big to deal with, just deal with right now. Asking ourselves what we need to do right now to make ourselves feel better and move forward is more than enough. We can build our day around dealing with right now. And it will be a good solid day, build on lots of right nows. It’s like trying to take small bites and enjoying the food instead of trying to gulp it all down at once.

3. HALT

Here’s the old standby that has kept me sane, healthy and alive for years. Take your emotional temperature every day.  Take the HALT test. HALT if you are H (hungry) and eat something healthy. HALT if you are A (angry) and take the time to acknowledge you are angry and process it in a healthy way by talking about it or taking a break. HALT if you are L (lonely) and pick up the phone, call, skype or zoom with someone. HALT if you are T (tired) and either get some rest or pause, close your eyes and breathe. Take the HALT test numerous times a day if you must.

4. Pamper

Sound like a crazy time to pamper yourself? Well, actually it’s the best time to pamper yourself! The more we nurture ourselves and those around us the more grounded, and centered we become. Pampering can include hobbies, yoga, Pilates, the exercise of any kind, meditation, music, hot baths, facials, and anything that gives you pause and lowers your stress level. I am thrilled and amazed by all the interesting free concerts and exercise and mediation classes on Facebook, YouTube, and social media. Turn off the news and turn yourself on with the good, positive activities and content that is uplifting, calming and motivational. Now is the time to nurture and drink out of a glass half full.

5. Socialize

Even in isolation or lockdown, we have the opportunity to reach out to others. Phone calls, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, texts, even going outside and talking to neighbors from 6 feet away work to connect us! We live in a miraculous time of digital wonder so take advantage of it. I actually went on a zoom 12 step meeting last night and it was terrific! For those of us in recovery, it’s a chance to stay in recovery from our couch! Dream come true!

6. Try to be flexible

Flexibility is a tremendous way to work through the fear of change.  When we are rigid and uncompromising we make ourselves so unhappy and impossible to please. When we are flexible and open to new experiences, we can actually begin to find new and creative ways to cope with the new normal. Life is so much easier when we give up our expectations.  We can see possibilities instead of problems.

We will see spring again

I hope these simple tactics bring you some comfort. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you and your families. I cannot even fathom the trials and challenges some of you are going through. I will keep you in my heart so you are not alone. I truly believe that like the trees whose leaves are now spouting after a long barren winter, you will see spring again. Please stay in touch and share your thoughts in the comments below. Much Love.

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Tena Scallan

    Amazing advise, thank you.

    • Susanne

      I’m so glad you found it helpful. This new normal is daunting!

    • Aimee

      Lovely blog thank you!!

      • Susanne

        Thank you for the feedback! ?❤️

  2. Adele

    Hi Sue. Hope you are well and safe. Since you are talking about dealing with a new normal I thought that I would weigh in too. I have a really big job ahead of me getting use to all the new normals in my life. I have been caring for my mother for years and in the middle of all the pandemic craziness, I lost her on March 27th. Thankfully it was not from the virus. She simply died of old age. She lived longer than most people only because she had such a strong will to live. But only about a month ago she started to relinquish the strong grip that she had on life. Ever the pragmatist, she decided that the difficulties she had in continuing to live were just not worth continuing. She started telling me that she was going to die and that there was nothing she could do about it. I asked her if she was sad about it and she said no. She assured me that after so long a life, she was okay with it. She said what’s the point when you cannot do anything anymore. You can’t t eat or drink the good things you liked. You can’t see or hear much. All you can do is sit on your butt all day and night. She said that it was no way to live. Ultimately it took her only two days to let go and for that I am grateful because she did not linger too long.The day before she just stopped talking to me and kind of went inside herself. She was focused elsewhere at that point. She could hear me but was longer paying any attention to me. We had already said our goodbyes. I write this because I think that it is important to understand that death need not be feared. It did not scare my mother. She was ready. So as you have said elsewhere in your blog, it’s important to give your loved ones permission to leave. It hurts like hell and leaves a hole in your heart, but you have to allow them to exit gracefully if you possibly can. To hang on to them is in a way selfish. They need to be on their way. You need to let them go. I miss her terribly, but I know that she is in a better place where she wanted to be.

    • Susanne

      I’m so sorry for you loss. I know how much you loved and cared for you Mom and how amazing she was. I also hear in your voice that you have a peace and serenity about her passing and know that she too is now at peace. Allowing someone you love to “exit peacefully” is the greatest gift that love can give. My Dad too, told us he was thinking about “checking out” and died the next day with a smile on his face. I miss him so much but know he had a plan and followed through on it, his way. It gives me such comfort. I wish you speedy adjustment to your new normal but know first hand that it takes time and self appreciation and apathy helps us along the way. Much love dear friend.

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