Redirect Your Focus For Unconditional Love

Steve Wishman
October 17, 2022

Being a caregiver for dementia patients is challenging enough, but caregiving for your own parent with dementia can be a herculean task. Often they can't see you as a competent adult. How could their child possibly know better than them? Every debate becomes personal, riddled with subtext and layer upon layer of baggage.

For some of us, we must come to terms with the fact that we will never get what we want from the relationship if we hope to get it from our declining loved one. We have to turn our focus inward while directing so much energy outward. Unconditional love comes from within, not from other people. Unconditional love means loving all of life, with all of its imperfections. It means having love for the journey and having compassion for all of us who share in our suffering.

As their dementia continues to worsen their love for us can feel more and more conditional, and we can even find ourselves resenting them for terrible things they might say to us when their impulse control vanishes. Sometimes it can feel like you're being tested on a cellular level. This is a bell of mindfulness—a reminder to widen your focus and direct compassion toward yourself, and to all living things.

No items found.
Steve Wishman

Steve Wishman is the founder of Zen and the Art of Caregiving, and author/illustrator of How Mom Died, a webcomic/memoir chronicling his experiences as a caregiver for his mother at the end of her life.