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While being a caregiver for an elderly loved one can be deeply rewarding, it can also be extremely stressful. During those moments when my nerves are frayed and my patience is wearing thin, I’ve discovered some helpful techniques to remove myself from the situation and calm down.

How do I keep strong feelings from getting the best of me? I remember to “take five.” Best of all, my little mantra can take many different forms:

1. You could take five (literal) steps back from the situation if your loved one with dementia has become belligerent.

2. Count to five before you answer if you’re stuck in a cycle of repeated questions or comments.

3. Take five whole minutes to yourself (set a timer!) if you’re just worn out. While you relax, put on a calming television program or hand the person with dementia a favorite snack and leave the room.

4. In the evening, of course, you can always try five sips of wine…


Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers. She is currently writing the sequel.