I get asked a lot of questions about Alzheimer's Disease and caregiving. I love to answer questions, although, I am definitely learning by trial and error and error and error! I am not an expert by any means. I am just trying to get through this one day at a time and to trying to give my mother everything she needs, just like she did for me every day of my life. If I don't know the answer then it's even better because there is always something new to learn about AD. Every day has it owns challenges and if you think you have it figured out... well, just wait until tomorrow.
The one question that never fails to amaze me is this: Why did you choose to become her caregiver? You mean I actually had a choice? When was this? When mom was no longer remembering to take her medicine and I found little piles of pills all over her apartment. Maybe it is when I noticed that she couldn't find her way through the grocery store anymore. Oh, wait I remember, when I went to her apartment for four days in a row and she had the same clothes on each and every time.
The point I am trying to make is that usually a family caregiver isn't given a choice. They usually go into this after some health crisis where it becomes frighteningly real that this has to happen immediately. This is a parent, generally, but it can be a spouse, sibling or even a good friend but for this point I'm talking about the parent/child relationship. Think about it, if your child was sick would you CHOOSE to take care of them? It's the same basic fact. They are our loved ones. It doesn't matter what the relationship is the fact remains that they need our love, help and most importantly our support.
I guess I could have made other choices whether it be an assisted living community or a nursing home. I would still be her caregiver because it is up to me to see that she is taken care if not by me then by a professional. This way just works for us. I can no longer drive and my husband works long hours, so that would leave her care to strangers for the majority of the time. She is painfully shy and I think having strangers taking care of her would not have worked well for her. I would not have been able to monitor her care the way I feel you have to in those situations and I would have worried about her a lot more.
The fact of the matter is she is my mother, my responsibility and I feel honored to be that one person she trusts more than anyone else in the world. Maybe it is the close relationship we have always had or maybe it is the fact that of five children I am her only daughter. I don't know but what I do know is that I love my mom first, always and forever. She took care of me every single day of my life whether it was changing my diapers or being that shoulder I leaned on when I later became an adult. How could I possibly give her any less?
So while I feel I didn't choose this I still wouldn't have it any other way. I just want my mom to be happy, healthy and most of all safe. That's why I am a caregiver. Remember to Appreciate the good, laugh at the crazy and deal with the rest. I love you momma!