I started a leave from work to care for a family member a couple of weeks ago. Although it is an absolute privilege, caregiving is emotionally difficult and there’s a surprising amount to manage, even with an amazing patient and co-caregivers. We moved into a care facility this week where a team of nurses and professionals have taken over the actual care giving and now we, the former caregivers, find ourselves with more quiet time. So I have started knitting again.
Knitting is peaceful. If you have an easy pattern, following it can be therapeutic. The repetitive motion of knits and pearls soothe the soul and it’s fun to see progress as you move along. It requires just enough brain power to be distracted, but not so much that you need a lot of concentration. Knitting can build community if you’re with others, and feels comfortable to do alone as well.
In the TED talk by Alanna Shaikh, she talks about preparing for Alzheimer’s. She identified ways in which aging and dementia affect the body, and what soothes the patient. In preparing, she is working to increase her balance through yoga and tai-chi. She also talks about finding repetitive tasks that you enjoy that and can do with very little conscious effort. Knitting is this task for me. Although her talk targets Alzheimer’s and dementia, people with all sorts of ailments at any age experience imbalance and loss of concentration. This idea of intentional preparation seeps into all types of worst-case scenarios, including writing thoughtful and clear advance care directives and discussing them with your family, and making sure you are at peace with the people you love.
The loved one I am caring for now has done all of this preparation, and it is still difficult. But we have so much peace mixed with the sadness and we do not struggle to make care decisions because we know exactly what is desired. And we’ll knit together while we can.
Here my current pattern (free!): Ridge Washcloth
And some other information on the health benefits of knitting:
Update: We’re getting somewhere!