Gift of time given daily, but with no promise of tomorrow

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"Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners." - William Shakespeare

The theme for our support group a couple of weeks ago was to help caregivers set goals for themselves that are doable.

Many times family and friends make suggestions to caregivers thinking they are being helpful, when in fact most do not understand the demands of caring for someone with dementia. Their intentions are good, but sometimes their suggestions leave caregivers feeling inadequate.

Our goal, as group facilitators, is to peel back the onion and help caregivers understand that there is a reasonable path to self-care. There are a number of doable ways this can be accomplished.

For now, I want to share the following story.

Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest: Each morning your bank will deposit $86,400 in your private account for your use. However, this prize has a condition.

The first set of rules is: Everything that you didn't spend during each day would be taken away from you. You may not spend it. Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another $86,400.

The second rule is that the bank can end the game without warning. What would you do? You would probably buy anything you wanted not only for yourself, but for the people you love. You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right?

Actually, this is not a game; it is reality. Each of us is in possession of such a magical bank, but we just can't seem to see it. The "magical bank" is time.

Each morning we awaken to receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is not credited to us.

What we haven't lived up that day is forever lost. Yesterday is forever gone. Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account any time, without warning.

What will you do with your 86,400 seconds every day? Aren't they worth so much more than the same amount in dollars?

Think about that, and always think of this: Enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think. Take care of yourself. Be happy. Love deeply, and enjoy life.

Are you going to choose to let the role of caregiver destroy you or are you going to learn better coping skills and practice self-care?

Karen Doughtie is assistant director of Memory Matters, serving Bluffton and Hilton Head. karen@memory-matters.org

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