It was both a blessing and an honor being a caregiver for my mom. I’m an introvert so entertaining myself wasn’t a problem for the most part, however, being a caregiver I felt more isolated than usual. Caring for a loved one who is diagnosis with dementia is difficult. We, caregivers, need to know that we are not alone. The stages of caregiving that I list below should help you. Caregivers feel alone because you're in your let me say a bubble that you can’t leave. You say “why me” I know because this is what I asked myself. I also said, “Why my mom because she was a beautiful, strong, smart, and loving person.” She didn’t deserve to suffer this fate.
The Stages I list below start with the Stage One – The Beginning to the Stage Four - When your caregiving journey ends. I share a portion of my journey with you in each of the stages listed. If you see that your in one of those stages, planning may help you to handle the challenges you may have to face in the next stage.
Stage One: The Beginning
So your loved one receives the diagnosis that they have a form of dementia. This will have a massive effect on that person, you, your friends, family members, and spouse/partner. If your not a medical professional you have to learn to care for someone in my case my mom that always cared for you, and that realization will hit you like a ton of bricks. Your life is about to change.
Stage Two: The need for assistance
You're going to need a lot of help. If you have a big family and this doesn’t necessarily mean family by blood it could be friends, church members, support groups. You're going to have to have someone to allow you to vent, cry, and just listen to you. You will also need to see if your job will assist you in other ways that you can do your job. I teleworked while caring for my mom, and that meant everything to me to have that flexibility.
Stage Three: Taking Care of you and Facility Care for your loved one
Having caregiver burnout is normal. I already have high blood pressure but being a caregiver that works full time and have to travel to care for mom, it drains you. I’ve said in other blogs “It takes a village” to care for loved one suffering from dementia. There were times when caring for my mom was very hard, and the thought was placing my mom in a Nursing Home did come up, ultimately we decided as a family to keep her home where she would be safe and receive the best possible care. Whether you place your loved one in a Facility or not is an important decision that you should decide amongst your family members and/or medical professional.
Stage Four: When your Caregiving journey ends
This stage is hard, in fact, I’m still at this stage. Since my mom passed away this June, it’s always fresh in my mind. I remember going to my mom’s house after the funeral and just sitting there. I remember asking myself what now? Her husband and I felt a void that never closes you only learn to deal with it. We felt at peace because she didn’t have to be placed in a nursing home. My mom wrote everything down with what she wanted, and we followed it. I’m still grieving but, I had to go to work it helped me to be busy, and I planned to and I'm continuing to both advocate to find a cure for Alzheimer's in her name for as long as I am able, and also write this blog to help others going thru their caregiving journey.
Every caregiver's journey is different and until we find a cure for all forms of dementia we all are met with the same ending.