Hi. For many years I was primary caregiver to my parents, who both had dementia. When he was 81, my dad caught pneumonia, which turned into septicemia, which cooked his brains. He went literally overnight from being normal to having mid- to advanced-level dementia. It progressed from there like Alzheimer’s until he succumbed three years later. My mother has vascular dementia, which is brain damage caused by stroke. The two types of dementia progress differently, although the end result is the same.
My dad died nine years ago. Mom stayed with me until about two years ago, when the risk of her taking a bad fall was too great to keep her at home any longer. So, I was a part- to full-time caregiver for over ten years. It wasn’t planned; I never announced “I am going to take care of my parents!” or anything. It just happened. I wasn’t very good at it, and have battled long and hard with feelings of anger, sadness, isolation, and grief from watching any idea of a “normal” life go down the drain.
I always thought that once I didn’t have to care for them anymore, then real life could begin again. As though being a caregiver was an interruption to my life. But now I realize it WAS my life. Being a caregiver made me who I am today. It made me grow up—or, at least, start that process. I’ve had to face a lot of demons that most people (myself included) happily run away from their whole lives. Like facing the fact that I am not really such a “nice” person as I like to think I am. If there is any good in me at all today, it is the Holy Spirit at work in my life. God has given me a little bit more empathy, a little bit more kindness, for people than I had before.
The dementia journey is unique to every person who goes through it. Likewise, the caregiver’s journey is unique to every caregiver. If anyone reads this who is struggling with caregiving, I hope I can at least give you some comfort that you’re not alone and that someone else on this planet understands what you’re going through. I will post something about once a week. If anyone has any comments or suggestions I’m open to hear them. I’m also having a hard time figuring out how this site works, so please bear with me as I work out the kinks! Thanks, and God bless;