I was lucky. My parents lived to a wonderfully ripe old age, with relatively good physical health. I'd been raised to respect them. They scrimped and saved, always wanting more opportunity for me than they had during the Depression and at the end of WWII. They made good decisions for my welfare when I was young. Like cheerleaders holding invisible pompoms, they supported my choices as I grew up and raised my own family. My parents and I never experienced much conflict.
When the tables gradually began to turn and I saw my parents living in unsafe situations––eating spoiled food, suffering falls and broken bones––I knew I must do all I could to protect those whom had given me their all.
Easier said than done. Even with my heart in the right place, it took over three years to move Mom and Dad. I worried while I was at work. I stopped at their house daily. I jumped in panic every time the phone rang, or a message flashed on the answering machine. I prayed an incident with driving wouldn't hurt them or someone else.
Inserting yourself into your parents lives, making decisions for the people whom always made good decisions for you is nothing short of make-your-heart-ache hard.
As caregivers we become members of a club that no one wants to join because membership means our loved ones have lost the ability to care for themselves.
If we can be brave enough to share our struggles with others who are in a caregiving role we can understand the other's sorrow. Through that empathy we may gain strength, comfort and even some solutions.
At the time my parents were ill with Alzheimer's, I didn't have the courage to share with others. I was convinced I wanted to protect their dignity. And honestly, I didn't have the time to share. I was working too hard to stay afloat. It's been five years since Mom died and four years since Dad's passing, but the experience of taking over a loved one's life never leaves us. Now those experiences pour out in Alzheimer's Daughter.