Alzheimer's blog

Caregiver shares words of inspiration

By Angela Lunde February 8, 2011

I'm a caregiver, but not in the same way as most of you. I'm a caregiver for my two "children" ages 18 and 22 (who, by the way, still seem to need an incredible amount of "care"). I haven't (yet) provided ongoing care for an elderly parent, spouse or other individual with dementia. Therefore, I gain an incredible amount of knowledge, insight and inspiration from what many of you share through this blog and from the men and women in the Alzheimer's support groups I facilitate.

Last week in the support group, Theresa, a caregiver for her mother, offered the group an insightful perspective into the role of Alzheimer's support groups and an inspirational view of caregiving. Here is my remembrance of what she shared:

After my mother's abrupt and unexpected diagnosis of Alzheimer's, I attended my first support group meeting. I was overwhelmed. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I couldn't look at anyone in the room. I didn't want to hear what was being said. After all, I was only there to figure out how to "fix" my mom's condition. I intended to get the answers and then go home and implement the solution. That did not happen. I left in tears convinced that attending a support group was not going to help my mother. I vowed never to return.

Three years later I returned to the support group. I was still feeling overwhelmed, as well as angry, scared, and uncertain. But something was different this time. I realized that when I came three years ago, I was coming for my mom. This time, I'm coming for me. At some point on this journey I accepted that my mom's disease would continue to progress and even her dutiful daughter could not change that. I on the other hand, had a choice. I could choose to care for me and about me. I could choose to take care of my emotional and physical health. I could choose to participate in life and find joy in something every day.

I am still a full time caregiver for my mother just like I was three years ago, but now I love (almost) every minute of being there for her.

"We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong.
The amount of work is the same."

- Carlos Castenada, American writer, nagual (shaman)
(1925 - 1998)
Feb. 08, 2011