What Does Stuffing And Caregiving Have In Common?

What Does Stuffing

And Caregiving

Have In Common?

Ok, I admit this sounds pretty bizarre, but as you read on I think you will be surprised at the similarities.  Please note that this article is intended not so much to guide you when interacting with a person with Dementia, because they won’t be able to process and retain what you are talking about long-term.  But I do think you will find it helpful when dealing with family and friends when getting together for the holidays.  Let me explain my thoughts.

Stuffing is a side dish.  The Turkey is the main course.  I think we can all agree with these statements.  In contrast most people view Caregiving as the side dish and our body as the main dish.

Yet if we look closely, we put the stuffing inside the body of the turkey.  The stuffing in turn has an effect on the bird.  It changes the texture of the meat by adding moisture.  It changes the flavor of the bird depending on what we use in our recipe for the stuffing.  When we cook a stuffed turkey it now takes longer to cook the meal so further planning and consideration is needed.

As Caregivers, many times we stuff our feelings.  These feeling also affect our  body.  We tend to stuff our feelings when we are uncomfortable in an environment or situation. We do this when we don’t feel we can be our authentic self.  We stuff our feeling when we are worried about being judged or think our feelings, comments or actions won’t be acknowledged or accepted as valid.

During the holidays it is common for people to stuff their feelings to “KEEP THE PEACE.”  The problem with this process is when we do this, we are not being authentic and true to ourselves, and if we are good at stuffing our feelings, others don’t have a clue anything is even wrong.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Keeping the peace can be a good thing, but each of us needs to be aware of when we are doing this.

Now you may ask why is it important to be aware of when you “stuff your feelings and keep the peace?”

  • When you chose to stuff your feelings, typically you will now carry the burden of “keeping the peace “ in the environment you are in.
  • Many times when you stuff your feelings you will find you feel more uncomfortable and awkward.  Bottom line, not authentic to yourself and thus less engaged in what is going on around you.
  • Although many of us can get good at stuffing our feelings, most of us are not good at hiding our body language in these situations.

We think if we don’t’ get mad and yell, if we don’t show we are sad and cry, if we don’t disagree with someone and keep quiet; no one will know that there is an “ISSUE.”  No one will be able to tell that we are “stuffing” our emotions, our feelings. But truth be told, others can tell things are out of sync by our body language.  People pick up on what we typically call or label as “An Attitude.”

Attitude shows up in many fashions.  It’s a roll of your eyes.  It’s a raise of the eyebrow or squinting of your eyes. It’s frown or a drop of the jaw.  It’s a twisted face or maybe you are one who  blushes.  Attitude shows up in how we chose to sit, stand, walk, talk and listen.  Tapping of the fingers or pumping of a leg can imply anxiousness.  Maybe you are lip or nail biter when nervous.  How about a hair twister if you are uncomfortable… Do you get quiet when you’re mad or sad? The list goes on but you get the idea.  These are all common non verbal responses to a comment or an observation.

Body language speaks much louder than words, yet we don’t give it the credit it deserves.  By stuffing your feelings you are trying to keep others comfortable.  In turn, we increase our own burden of discomfort.  When we shift gears like this we are no longer authentic in out interactions.  We create a false environment which fosters miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Please know that “stuffing your feelings” is not always a bad thing to do, but it is something we should all be aware of when it occurs. You and only you can be the judge of the timing of such. Hopefully you will address, your true feeling with the person or group you are not aligned with sooner than later, to avoid conflict in the future.  If you don’t, you will most likely start to harbor resentment which can build over time and destroy your relationship.  This is extremely common with families when caring for a loved one.

Lori La Bey Founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks

I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!  Remember this tips is something you can use all year long.

I also want to thank each of you for your dedication and support to Alzheimer’s Speaks.  Without you we would not be able to accomplish all we have this past year.

Please check out our website

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