Dealing with dementia and the ultimate practice of surrender (Ishvara Pranidhana) – Part two

Mum moved into her new home a week ago. A lot has happened since my first blog about dealing and processing the idea of finding her a new forever home.

We found a wonderful home, but the road for me was still fairly turbulent in the midst of this pandemic known as Covid. It’s not the ideal time to be moving a loved one into an aged care facility, but life doesn’t generally serve up ideal circumstances, which as usual, gives us the ultimate opportunity for practice.

Ishvara Pranidhana is the fifth and final Yama, and basically gives us the guidance to practice the art of surrender and letting go. This entire experience for me has brought this Yama to the forefront of my practice and I am grateful again and again for yoga and the tools it offers me during times of adversity.

As I disabled my social media accounts, I felt a momentary spaciousness open up around me. My only focus and commitment was spending time with Mum and looking for a place where she would get better care and be in a safe environment where, hopefully, she would be happy and well supported.

I was staying up on the Gold Coast once a week in a hotel around the corner from Mum’s apartment when I did something that I never do – I turned on the TV. The news came on headlining the situation of aged care homes in Victoria. I had no idea the scope of how things were unravelling there. Call it putting my head in the sand, but with a Facebook full of friends who are into conspiracy theories and other friends who are more driven by mainstream media and this battle between the two, I had literally just stepped away from it all. Whatever the truth is, it doesn’t change my day to day life. I have no control over what is going on, what will happen in regards to this pandemic, and regardless of my beliefs of what the fuck is actually happening, all I know is that my own steadiness is the best thing I can contribute to a seemingly slowly unravelling/unveiling global situation. So, I switched off all the external noise and ramped up my internal practice. Until I turned the TV on.

It’s funny – I saw first hand how easy it is to get swept up in whatever it is that lies in front of you. I observed how easy it is to get drawn into conspiracy theories and I also witnessed how easy it can be to get drawn into mainstream media. Both can have that brainwashing effect if you put your energy into them.

With Mum going into an aged care facility, I felt it was necessary to start watching what was going on. I didn’t turn the news on again, but I did start following the news online. I started watching cases because this was going to determine what would happen in Queensland in regards to the aged care sector.

10 days before mum’s admission date, Queensland aged care homes went into lockdown. It was a government directive and a precautionary measure that completely threw me into a spin. If aged care was in lockdown when Mum was to move in, we would literally be handing her over without being able to be part of the process of holding her hand and settling her in. We would not be able to visit and she would not be allowed out unless we discharged her. We would not be able to meet those who were front line caring for her. Yes, we would be able to Skype her, but our mother is someone who is settled by physical touch and a video chat for her can often be discombobulating.

It was a stressful time for me that week. I was glued to the Covid numbers and often called the facility with questions while using all of my might to trust the process.

I cried with relief when, three days before we were to start moving Mum’s things, aged care opened up. There has been so much grief for me during this process. So much holding on and letting go. So much hope. So much letting go. So, so many tears and sleepless nights. So much practice in handing it over to the Universe. All whilst maintaining this ever-present trust in the process. I tend to feel all feelings in a way that is both chaotic and cathartic. Feeling whatever arises helps me stay grounded and present and gives me the ability to clear space and hold steady.

We moved Mum’s things in and met the residents around her, who were wonderful. The nurses were great and that feeling of synchronicity was abundant. Moving Mum in went well and I am continuously amazed, inspired and most of all grateful for her adaptable nature and her unquenchable thirst for change – two qualities that have undeniably made this whole situation easier.

I stayed around the corner on her first night and spent time within her new home making friends with her neighbours, and I connected well with them. I felt more at ease that if another lockdown was to occur she is in the right place and is in good care and company.

On the second day of Mum being in her new home, we found out that she had to do five days of isolation in her room. This came a bit of a surprise. What came as more of a surprise is that I found out that she was unable to visit us without another five day isolation in her room on her arrival back to the facility. Whilst I’m unsure as to whether this would have stopped us moving her in in the first place, I felt another surge of grief hit me with the realisation that it was unknown as to when she would be able to see Nahlo again. Nahlo has asked for her a lot recently because she stayed with us twice a week before moving into the aged care home. This was something that we planned to continue once she had settled in.

Driving back to Kingscliff for the first time in four days after helping Mum move, something felt amiss. This feeling penetrated our family in a way that created a sudden and pivotal change in us wanting to move back over the border into Queensland as soon as possible. It became apparent that every other man and his dog were having the same idea. There are also other reasons to back this feeling up and as we spoke about it and reflected on the last lockdown, we came to realise there are a fair few reasons to move back across the border.

When I have seen Mum in her new home, she seems to be adapting fairly well. There is a huge element of trust and ‘handing over’ (Ishvaran Pranidhana) that is being practiced here. With Mum’s inability to remember or relay information, it’s impossible to know exactly what is and isn’t being done. I understand that there will be this process of Mum getting better known and her carers spending time with her to understand what it is that she requires physically, mentally and emotionally.

For me, it is all about getting to know her environment, spending time with the other residents and her carers to build the trust that I already feel is present – that everything is unfolding exactly as it is meant to and everyone is exactly where they are meant to be.

As I sit here, I feel kind of unsettled. But that is often the way when you can feel a big change coming. And there are certainly big changes coming.

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