Yes, I’ve said this to myself many of times, you love your parent, but you don’t think that you have it in you to be a caregiver. What do you do when you don’t have a choice? Well, I had two options like many of us do place my mom in a Nursing Home or step up to the plate a provide care to the woman that gave me life and was my number one supporter. I chose to step into the caregiver role. Fortunately, I had help her Husband and his daughter who was a medical provider who guided me along the way but if help isn’t available what do you do? What do you do when the “family” disappears from all forms of responsibility?
These thoughts come into someone’s mind when their parent develops a form of dementia. Like most people, you are not a medical care provider. Your parents, who were once very active, your hero if you were lucky has become more like your child. Most caregivers live in a different state not close enough to check in on them, so we worry about them falling, driving somewhere and getting lost or in an accident, and other things that lead to dangerous situations. Those concerns can be overwhelming. This stress can significantly contribute to poor health and poor mental state of ourselves.
So you sit there thinking of what to do. I can’t do it, so I’m going to place my parent in a nursing home. This is when most of the judgment comes. From other family members from friends who don’t even want to help, and co-workers who may have never personally experience this in their family. I get it. I used to say why would someone put their parent in a nursing home or assisted care facility until my mom had dementia. I know ignorance is bliss, I didn’t know that much about dementia before I was a caregiver myself. That is why I tell everyone to advocate to educate people about Alzheimers. Don’t allow their attitudes make you feel guilty most people don’t know how hard being a caregiver is. It’s not like your mom or dad have a choice. That would be different. When your parent has dementia, they are entirely dependent on you. When the disease progresses through the various stages, it becomes a 24/7 365 days a year job that you don’t get paid for. This caregiving job is not pretty it’s hard as hell. You can’t have a conversation with your loved one; you have to bathe, feed, dress, and in the worse case after all that, they don’t even know who you are, and that’s heartbreaking. So you hear it’s rewarding and it is but you don’t really feel or see that while your in the mists of caregiving your mostly likely trying to keep yourself going day to day and hour by hour.
I heard of stories of siblings disappearing when their parent has dementia, and one sibling is left with the weight on their shoulders. You are angry and frustrated, but it’s important to see both sides of the story if you are the one holding that weight. Truth is when the caregiving need arises people start scattering. Their busy or they can’t because of xyz fill in the blank. You need to think about the struggles that other family members may face on a daily basis. I’m not saying that your life is a bunch of daises everyone has their struggles. Some folks are not emotionally prepared to take on the responsibility that it takes to be a caregiver. That in itself to even admit it instead of running away is important. Some may have health issues themselves or have young children with little time to provide care for their parent. People may have just huge problems going on that you’re not even aware of. So does that give them an excuse? No, but it’s important that even though you are not up to the challenges that a caregiver faces keeping your loved one at home. Take part in the conversation of your parents care.
For me being a caregiver for my mom was an honor, but it was hardly easy it was downright difficult and painful. It affected my health, my work, my relationships, and it was depressing. Do you think that your mom or dad would want you to be ill? No, they want you to prosper and exceed in life. Dementia is nothing that anyone would want to acquire; it comes like a thief in the night and it’s relentless in it’s attack.
I can’t speak on this as a professional, but I can only provide my opinion on this. If you love your parent and don’t think you can do it, talk it out with the rest of the family. If your the primary caregiver and family does not want to help, you have to let it go. Decide upon yourself what you can handle. Pray or meditate on it. This dementia journey can be long and the later stages can burn you to your core. It will change you. Don’t let the resentment eat away at you. There are ways that they can help if they can’t be the caregiver full time. Those family members should focus on what they can do to help take the weight off the primary caregiver. No one is a perfect caregiver even paid professionals. We are dealing with the unknown disease with no cure currently we are all learning.
At the end of the day as children we need to ask ourselves what is best for your parent, then ask yourself if you are a qualified enough or have the right assistance to provide care. Isn’t your parent important enough to make an informed decision about receiving appropriate medical care? Whatever your choice is, I wish you well.
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