Advice For Caring for a Loved One
My mother passed away from dementia in 2000, at age 73. After giving birth to my two older brothers, she was thrilled to finally get a daughter. From day one she was looking out for me, I was born five pounds and my mom insisted she stayed in the hospital with me until I was healthy enough to go home. She filled my childhood with Girl Scout meetings, piano lessons, friends and Sunday church.
As an adult, I moved back home when my father told me my mother was struggling with her memory. I struggled to accept her dementia even though it was obvious. She wouldn’t remember what she was just told, there was the occasional frying pan left on the burner or overflowing sink and my mom would tell stories from her childhood but couldn’t remember what day it was. As I watched her dementia worsen, our communication began to fail because she could not look at me as an adult and I could not view her as the mother I once knew.
I’m ashamed I did not handle her care with more grace. Yet, here I am at 62, working in elder care and I love my job and I do it well. Maybe helping others as I should’ve helped my mom will help me forgive myself for not being a better caregiver to her. Here is some advice to caregivers looking after a loved one:
- Remember, this person helped you when you were too young to help yourself.
- Concentrate on what your loved one can do, even if you need to keep a list and view it daily.
- Give yourself time off to spend with other people or enjoy a hobby.
- Join meetings regarding Alzheimer’s/dementia.
- Keep reminding yourself it’s your job to maintain safety, not to control.
- Daily life can be a struggle, seek out a change of scenery even if it’s only to get fresh air.
Even to this day, with my experience as a professional caregiver, I don’t know why I couldn’t accept my mom’s behavior. While it’s a wonderful thing to care for a loved one, don’t be ashamed to seek outside help.