Caregivers are People Too
by fran Lewis
(bronx, new york)
For the last six years I have been taking care of all of the medical, physical and emotional needs of my mom since she was diagnosed with dementia then Alzheimer's.
In the past 6 years I have seen a vibrant woman that was a force to be reckoned with deteriorate.
She is in the last stages of the disease but is hanging on. She is at home with the best possible home care that I could get for her. After spending every penny in my bank account which has gone down to practically nothing, she is receiving full services from Medicaid. But, that is not the only reason for my headaches, stress and more. Being in debt and handling it is one thing, but being tied to living in a building that is not really conducive to someone like myself who likes to socialize, walk and meet people, makes it even harder.
My husband and I have not been on real vacation in six years because no one in my family will take on the responsibilities necessary to care for my mother. Unfortunately, because she is not self-directed the home health aides cannot administer her meds and I have to go down twice daily to crush the medications that are pre-poured in a pill box and make sure that she takes it with yogurt or anything else that I can hide it in.
I have an understanding husband but it is really unfair that no one will step up. I retired early from teaching and all I get from anyone is that they have to work, but taking a vacation is not part of work and once in a while it would be nice if someone took on the responsibilities for a few days to let me relax my mind and recoup. I have written a book about my mother's journey with the disease. It is called Memories are Precious: Alzheimer's Journey: Ruth's Story. It is about her journey from the beginning with this horrific illness and it is a resource for those who want to understand the illness in simple terms and get help. Caregivers are people too and everyone needs to learn to step up to the plate even if it means giving up a few days of their own vacation.