Living in the Moment
Helpful hints about caregiving as well as lessons learned from Alzheimer’s disease are available if you look for them. Even during the daily routine, you may pick up a new insight if you just stop, look and listen.
My alarm clock is set to the local National Public Radio station, so most mornings I awaken to the soothing strains of classical music and then the news. But on weekends, instead of news, our local NPR station features “The People’s Pharmacy.” On these mornings, I normally sip my coffee and use the radio as a background noise as I do other things.
Yet one weekend, I was engaged by the comments of featured guests Dr. Bernie Siegal and Debbie Mandel about the show’s topic, “Changing Habits.” Then came the lesson that I needed to hear. During the interview, Ms. Mandel discussed her interactions with relatives who had Alzheimer’s disease, and described the illness as “the ultimate disease of letting go.” She said that the lesson she had learned from interacting with these loved ones was that one should really concentrate on living in the moment.
Ms. Mandel’s point was a good one. Too often we’re running around thinking about the next thing on the “to do” list, the upcoming trip to the doctor’s office, or the looming issue that will need to be resolved next week. Yet, as I sit visiting with my mom, I realize that my “chattering mind” is of little use – and causes tremendous stress. Perhaps Mom’s current experience – where the present moment is the only one she can comprehend – is a good lesson for each person on how to live one’s life, even if you don’t have Alzheimer’s disease.
Maybe it’s a better (and saner) idea to focus on the one thing in front of you, whether that involves enjoying a visit with your loved one or balancing your checkbook. As caregivers, we need to figure out ways to lower our own stress. I’m finding that Ms. Mandel’s suggestion of living in the moment is one I want to incorporate into my daily life.
Published On: January 19, 2007