In the Beginning...
I have been happily married for over 40 years to my husband Bob, who I had met while attending the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin.
We were living in the Silicon Valley area of California and I was working in high-tech and Bob was learning the art of commodity trading. Life was good and we were both enjoying our lives together.
Then, in 2012, our world was turned upside down when Bob suffered a series of strokes over several days and was subsequently diagnosed with dementia.
In the beginning, I was overwhelmed and over-stressed because so much had suddenly changed.
I struggled in this new, unfamiliar, and challenging situation that was so very difficult to figure out.
I was over-tired because I was always on call - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In short, I was a WRECK!!
When Bob returned home from the Nursing Home, there was NO "Instruction Manual" to guide me in what to do, what to expect, or how to adjust to our new reality.
Like most people who have suddenly found themselves in this situation; I had to figure out how to manage Bob, how to manage his care, and how to manage his well-being.
The strokes had left him with dementia - he had lost his ability to reason and most of his memories
were suddenly just gone - long-term and short-term memory had both been decidedly affected.
More often than not, Bob was in a somewhat delusional state mentally where he seemed to blend the past and present equally with fiction and reality to create his "new" reality. Gaining Bob's cooperation in even the simplist of tasks could also be difficult.
There were many days when I felt overwhelmed by the immense changes and challenges that I was suddenly facing. I had to do it without my partner of more than 40 years to help and support me.
It was completely up to me to get a grasp on our "new" life.
Finding the Way...
I quickly found that the communication methods I was using in everyday life were not effective in dealing with my "new" husband.
On one particularly difficult night, Bob had fallen and I was beside myself with anxiety - he was so weak that he couldn't even help me to move him.
I began to wonder if I already possessed the answers to how to manage Bob and care for him properly. I recalled a year-long course on effective communications methods that I had taken many years before.
I had successfully used many of the methods that I had learned in my professional life to deal with business issues - and I began to consider whether I could apply some of these same tools and techniques to my present sitution.
Through "trial-and-error caregiving", I discovered the communications techniques that became my "survival toolkit" of master tools, techniques and strategies. They kept me from tumbling over the edge into utter despair.
These master communications tools, techniques and strategies have made an enormous and positive difference in the quality of my caregiving and improved how I communicate with my husband. They make it easier to accomplish the day-to-day tasks that used to cause heart-wrenching frustration for everyone involved.
These tools are at the core of my teaching, coaching, and mentoring principles.The strategies at the heart of my toolkit are easy to learn, easy to use, and most importantly... highly effective.
I now teach these strategies to other caregivers through coaching, in-service training, and workshops.