Everyday is Groundhog’s Day: And lessons that I have learned along the way.

Dad: Where are we going?

Me: We’re going to PF Chang for dinner.

Dad: Oh, that’s good.  Isn’t Chris coming too?

Me: No, Chris has a work dinner meeting, so he won’t be joining us.

Pause

Dad:  Are we going to dinner?

Me: Yes, we’re going to have Chinese for dinner.

Dad: Just the two of us? Chris isn’t coming?

Me: No, Chris has a work dinner.

Pause

Dad: Are we going to dinner?

 

Conversation with my father is not always this way, but often it is.  My father has moderate dementia which means that he has about a 15 second repeat.

I jokingly said to a friend of mine that sometimes if feel like Bill Murray in Groundhogs Day.  In that movie, Bill Murray’s character (Phil) is a man forced to relive the same day over and over.  But re-watching the movie recently, I saw the movie in a new light.  Phil continually wakes up as his clock radio flips over to 6:00 a.m. and hears the same Sony and Cher song; Phil hears the same questions from the owner of the bed and breakfast and from his co-worker; Phil hears the same speech about Groundhog’s Day from the Punxsutawney officials and the groundhog always sees it shadow.  Yet Phil has been given the wonderous advantage of remembering — what he did the previous day, what he learned the previous day; how people reacted the previous day and can try again today to get a different result.

Even when I am not having repetitive conversations with my father, my days are typically very similar.  I get up, go to work, come home, walk the dogs, make dinner, listen to books on tape and go to bed.  But every day, brings the possibility of practicing a new skill, of learning a new idea, of making a new friendship, or simply of having a new conversation.  I can then apply these new experiences to having better relationships, with my father, my friends and myself.

We all have the choice to use yesterday’s learning to improve today and as a caregiver to my father with dementia, I am constantly reminded of the tragedy of losing the ability to learn new things.  But, to be honest, I don’t always take advantage of the gift that my father has lost: the ability to learn every day.  Somedays it’s just to hard to do things differently.  But I am working on that and this blog will be a collection of things that I have learned along the way.  Lessons of life; Lessons of Love; Lessons of Sadness; Lessons of Joy.  Every day everything is the same. Every day everything is different.  Why don’t you join me on the journey.

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I am a family caregiver. My father has dementia. I repeat myself a lot. It’s not easy. Like a lot of you, I have my challenges – I worry that I don’t have enough time for myself and my job and my family while worrying that I don’t give time to my father. I get frustrated and overwhelmed, but caregiving is a responsibility that I cherish. I’m also a CPA and an attorney who’s spent 25 years practicing law. I believe that we as a nation need to have a deeper and more involved conversation around caregivers and our devotion to the loved ones who need us so much. I hope that this site will help that conversation.