I knew pretty much from the start that I was in over my head with this whole ‘caregiver’ business.
But I’d made a promise to myself that I would take care of my mother and see to it that she could stay in her own home until her dementia progressed to the point where it didn’t really matter where she lived (because she’d forgotten her surroundings) or that I could no longer keep her safe and care for her.
It was a tall order (for sure) and my heart was in the right place (of course).
It seemed that almost overnight I’d gone from years of just caring for (and about) myself to committing to what could be (and has turned out to be) years of caring for someone else.
I knew I needed to gather the proper tools to help me in my new role and time to adjust to my new life.
One of the tools available to me was Alz.org; the National Alzheimer’s Organization with local chapters that puts family, friends, and those diagnosed with the disease in touch with information and services close to home that can help as they and their loved ones deal with their diagnosis.
They turned out to be a wonderful resource for me.
I logged onto the site often (or called the local chapter) for answers to questions, referrals to doctors and lawyers; whatever I needed they seemed to have.
They even had a ‘hot line’ that provided someone to talk to when all you needed was someone to listen.
But, the longer I was here, finally comfortable in my role as caregiver, providing Miss Cathy with all that she needed, the more I realized that ‘I’ needed ‘more’, that what I was at a place where I wanted to “not feel so alone” in my life and the choice that I made to care.
Going through all of this alone was proving to be as challenging as caring for Miss Cathy, as time went by I found the weight of going through this experience by myself almost too much to bear.
What I realized (and was surprised by) was the fact that the process of caring for and watching a loved one lose themselves to a disease (that is ever changing and ever demanding) is just as hard on those of us that bear witness as caregivers as it is to the person afflicted (different of course, but just as difficult).
It was time for the caregiver to seek out some care.